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Four journalists and a news executive of Unity Weekly newspaper were arrested by the Burmese special police following a report about a secret chemical weapons factory, according to local news reports. Authorities also seized issues of the newspaper from local newsstands.

The article titled “A Secret Chemical Weapons Factory of the Former Generals, Chinese Technicians and the Commander-in-Chief at Pauk Township” was published on January 25. It gave details about its construction and appearance and quoted people who work there saying that chemical weapons were being produced at the factory. Photos of the supposed chemical weapons plant in the western Magwe Region were provided in the report.

The police also detained the wife of one of the reporters and held her overnight. “They interrogated me and asked me when I married Ko Lu Maw, where I am living and when he went to the weapon factory,” the woman, Ma Lwin Lwin Myint, told the Myanmar Times

The police told Lwin Lwin Myint that her husband, Lu Maw Naing, may face charges for exposing state secrets. The Committee to Protect Journalists has expressed deep concern about the arrests and has called for the journalists’ immediate release.

“The fact that journalists can be charged with revealing state secrets shows how desperately Burma needs meaningful legal reform,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative. “Weapons proliferation issues are central to Burma’s political narrative and journalists should not be threatened or arrested for reporting on topics of national and international importance.”

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