WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department's top human rights official has accused Myanmar authorities of resorting to police-state tactics after five journalists got 10 years at hard labor for a disputed story about a weapons factory.
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski's comments, in an Associated Press interview Wednesday, are the stiffest U.S. criticism yet following last week's sentences.
The case is troubling for the Obama administration, which has cast its support of Myanmar's democratic reforms as an important foreign policy achievement.
Malinowski says the U.S. remains committed to engagement with Myanmar's government as it grapples with difficult institutional reforms and shifts the nation also known as Burma from five decades of direct military rule.
He says press freedom will be crucial for credible national elections next year.