Japanese journalist sentenced to three more years in Myanmar

Japanese journalist Toru Kubot Photo: Reuters file photo
Japanese journalist Toru Kubota, who was arrested while filming anti-coup protests in Myanmar, has been sentenced to another three years in prison. According to diplomatic sources, AFP said the sentence was announced by the junta court last Wednesday for violating the immigration law. He was earlier sentenced to seven years in prison.

The ruling against Kubota came on the same day that ousted Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi was sentenced to six years in prison on two counts of corruption. A source related to the case confirmed this information. Myanmar's junta has been cracking down on dissidents since seizing power in a coup last year. Various media workers are also being detained.

Toru Kubota was arrested in Myanmar last July. He was arrested along with two other Myanmar citizens from an anti-government protest in Yangon. Last week, he was sentenced to seven years in prison. The journalist was sentenced to an additional three years in prison, a diplomat at the Japanese embassy told AFP, citing Kubota's lawyer. He also mentioned that Kubota appeared to be physically healthy during the hearing on Wednesday.

According to the Film free Web site, Kubota created an authentic image of Myanmar's minority Rohingya Muslims and refugee and ethnic issues in the country. Kubota is the fifth foreign journalist detained in Myanmar. Earlier, US journalist Nathanmong, Danifenster, Poland journalist Robertbochaia, and Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi were arrested. They were later released and expelled.

Before the sentencing, junta spokesman Zamintun told AFP that Kubota would not be deported at this time. However, he did not mention the details in this regard. Phil Robertson, deputy director for Asia at Human Rights Watch, said Kubota was being used as a "political pawn" by the junta.

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