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Myanmar jails media owner, publisher, 3 journalists for report alleged to alarm public

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YANGON, Myanmar — A Myanmar court sentenced a media owner, publisher and three journalists to two years in prison Thursday in the latest ruling to raise concerns about press freedoms in the country emerging from military rule.

The July 7 article in the privately-run Bi Mon Te journal reported about an activist group that claimed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and ethnic political leaders had formed an interim government.

PHOTO: Myanmar journalists of a local weekly journal, Aung Thant, center right, and Min Wathan, center left, greet colleagues as they leave a township court Thursday, Oct 16, 2014, in Yangon, Myanmar. A Myanmar court has sentenced five people including three journalists to two years in prison - the latest in a  series of ruling that have raised concerns about press freedoms. The Pabaedan township court on Thursday charged three reporters and the journal's publisher and owner for causing public alarm. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)
Myanmar journalists of a local weekly journal, Aung Thant, center right, and Min Wathan, center left, greet colleagues as they leave a township court Thursday, Oct 16, 2014, in Yangon, Myanmar. A Myanmar court has sentenced five people including three journalists to two years in prison - the latest in a series of ruling that have raised concerns about press freedoms. The Pabaedan township court on Thursday charged three reporters and the journal's publisher and owner for causing public alarm. (AP Photo/Khin Maung Win)

The Pabaedan township court found two editors, one reporter and the journal's publisher and owner guilty of violating Article 505 (B) of the criminal law, which prohibits publishing statements that could cause public alarm.

The journal was suspended since the five were indicted.

Under a half-century of dictatorship, Myanmar regularly banned dissent and imprisoned journalists and other critics of the ruling junta. Despite dramatic changes since 2011, when a new nominally civilian government came to power, journalists are increasingly being arrested and imprisoned, some with sentences of up to 10 years in prison with hard labor.

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