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Myanmar Crisis

Myanmar to free detained Japanese journalist, state TV says

Charges against freelancer Yuki Kitazumi to be dropped

Freelance journalist Yuki Kitazumi, shown here in a photo from Facebook, was arrested in Myanmar on April 18.   © Kyodo

YANGON (Kyodo) -- A Japanese freelance journalist detained by security forces in Myanmar in mid-April and accused of spreading "fake news" will be released, with the charges against him withdrawn, state-run TV reported Thursday.

According to the report, the junta's information office said Yuki Kitazumi, 45, had been arrested and indicted for supporting the anti-coup civil disobedience movement and violent protests, and for not complying with visa regulations.

"Although the Japanese journalist Mr. Yuki Kitazumi has broken some laws, the charges against him will be withdrawn and he will be released," the State Administration Council Information Team reportedly said.

It said the decision was made "in consideration of cordial relations between Myanmar and Japan up to now and in view of future bilateral relations, and upon the request of the Japanese government special envoy on Myanmar's national reconciliation."

Kitazumi could have faced a jail term of up to three years if convicted under the penal code as amended after the Feb. 1 military coup.

The journalist, who previously worked at the Tokyo-based Nikkei business daily, had covered anti-government protests and posted online through such means as social media information deemed to be critical of the military.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Japan's top government spokesman, had demanded during a regular briefing on April 20 that the security forces in Myanmar release Kitazumi.

The military has stepped up its crackdown on the press, and according to the internet media "Reporting ASEAN," 80 journalists have been detained.

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