Two Reuters journalists have been sentenced by a Myanmar court to seven years of imprisonment for illegal possession of official documents, media reports said.
The court's decision is being condemned internationally by governments and rights groups.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been reporting on the brutal crackdown on the Rohingya in Rakhine state when they were arrested and charged with violating Official Secrets Act, punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Wa Lone left and Kyaw Soe Oo right/Courtesy of Reuters
They had pleaded not guilty, contending they were framed by police.
The journalists testified they did not solicit or knowingly possess any secret documents.
"Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere," Stephen J. Adler, Reuters editor in chief, said in a statement.
"These two admirable reporters have already spent nearly nine months in prison on false charges designed to silence their reporting and intimidate the press. Without any evidence of wrongdoing and in the face of compelling evidence of a police setup, today's ruling condemns them to the continued loss of their freedom."
Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, both testified they suffered from harsh treatment during their initial interrogations. Their several appeals for release on bail were rejected.
Kevin Krolicki, Reuters regional editor for Asia, said outside the court that it was "heartbreaking for friends and colleagues and family of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who in addition to the outrage many will feel, are deprived of their friends and colleagues, husband and father."
Wa Lone's wife, Pan Ei Mon, gave birth to the couple's first child in Yangon on Aug. 10, but Wa Lone has not yet seen his daughter.
Bob Rae, Canada's special envoy to Myanmar in the wake of the Rohingya crisis, called it "a travesty."
Praising the bravery of the reporters, Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International's director of crisis response said in a statement,
"Instead of targeting these two journalists, the Myanmar authorities should have been going after those responsible for killings, rape, torture and the torching of hundreds of Rohingya villages."
Dozens of journalists and pro-democracy activists marched Saturday in Yangon, Myanmar's biggest city, in support of the reporters.
Michelle Bachelet, the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and Britain's prime minister Theresa May called on Myanmar to free the journalists.
Investigators working for the UN's top human rights body said last week that genocide charges should be brought against senior Myanmar military officers over the crackdown.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)