A Myanmar policeman told a court on Wednesday he met two Reuters reporters on the night of their arrest in December, but denied giving them secret documents to incriminate them.
His testimony contradicted a previous witness, who last week said police had “set up” the pair.
“During my meeting with Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe-Oo, I didn’t take anything from them and I didn’t give anything to them,” Police Lance Cpl., Naing Lin, told Judge Lwin, overseeing the hearing at a court in Yangon.
“I went and met with Lone because he called me and requested a meeting.
“I didn’t call Lone and ask him to come meet me,” said Lin, who said he met the Reuters reporters over dinner and was not accompanied by any other policeman.
A previous witness, Police Capt. Moe Naing, has told the court a police chief ordered Lin and another policeman to give “secret” documents to Lone in an operation to entrap him.
The court in Yangon has been holding hearings since January to decide whether Lone, 32, and his
Reuters colleague Soe-Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison, for allegedly obtaining confidential documents.
At the time of their arrest, the reporters had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in western Myanmar’s Rakhine state.
The killings took place during an army crackdown that UN agencies say sent nearly 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.
The reporters have told relatives they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers at a restaurant in northern Yangon by two policemen they had not met before, having been invited to meet the officers for dinner.
Lin said Lone called him in December and introduced himself as a Reuters reporter, requesting an interview about his experiences in Rakhine, where Lin’s Police Security Battalion 8 was stationed between April and November 2017.
During the dinner, Lone asked Lin about the 10 murdered Rohingya, Naing Lin said.
During cross-examination, defence lawyer, Than Aung said phone records show Lin calling Lone three times in the afternoon and the evening of Dec. 12, the day the pair were arrested.
Lin said several times he did not call Lone, and insisted it was the reporter, who called and initiated the meeting.
Lead prosecutor Kyaw Aung declined to comment after the hearing.
Myanmar government spokesman, Zaw Htay, was not immediately available for comment.
After last week’s hearing he said that the courts were independent, and the case would be conducted according to the law.