Japanese journalist jailed in Myanmar for sedition

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Japanese journalist jailed in Myanmar for sedition

A military court in Myanmar has sentenced a Japanese journalist to 10 years in prison for sedition and breach of a law on electronic communications after he filmed an anti-government protest in July, a Japanese diplomat said on Thursday.

Toru Kubota, 26, was arrested by the Yangon police, where he was filming a documentary he had been working on for several years, according to a Change.org petition calling for his release.

Kubota was sentenced on Wednesday to three years for sedition and seven years for communication charges, according to Tetsuo Kitada, the deputy chief of mission at the Embassy of Japan in Myanmar, citing a lawyer representing the filmmaker's case.

Kitada told CNN that the court ruling had been made behind closed doors and that Kubota's lawyer was not allowed to be present.

Rights groups and observers say closed-door trials with no access to media or the public have become the norm in Myanmar, with closed-door trials with no access to media or the public being considered a violation of international human rights.

Kitada said that the Japanese Embassy is doing its best to secure an early release for Kubota.

Rights groups and observers say that Myanmar continues to deteriorate its freedoms and rights under the military junta. State executions have returned and the number of documented violent attacks by the army on civilian areas, including schools, has gone up, according to non-governmental organizations.

The former leader Aung San Suu Kyi is imprisoned with mounting charges made against her by the ruling junta. She denies all allegations made against her and her supporters, saying the charges are politically motivated.

Kubota is among the many foreigners held in prison in Myanmar.

Australian Sean Turnell, a former economic advisor to Suu Kyi and her party, was sentenced to three years in prison for violating the country's Official State Secrets Act, a decision immediately rejected by the Australian government.

Vicky Bowman, the United Kingdom's former ambassador to Myanmar, who served as its top diplomat in Myanmar between 2002 and 2006, was charged with immigration offenses along with her husband and sent to Yangon's notorious Insein Prison.