A court in military-ruled Myanmar has sentenced a Japanese documentary filmmaker to 10 years in prison for violating sedition and communications laws, a Japanese foreign ministry official said on Thursday.
Toru Kubota, 26, was arrested in July at a protest in Myanmar’s main city of Yangon. At the time, it was reported he faced charges of breaking an immigration law and encouraging dissent against the ruling military.
Kubota was on Wednesday sentenced to three years in prison for sedition and seven years for violating a law on telecommunications, the ministry official said, citing the filmmaker’s lawyer.
However, media in Myanmar reported that he was expected to serve the sentences concurrently, citing the junta’s communications team.
The Japanese ministry official said that a court hearing on his alleged violation of the immigration control law was scheduled for Oct. 12.
“We have been asking Myanmar authorities for Mr Kubota’s early release, and we intend to keep doing so,” he said.
Calls to a Myanmar military spokesperson seeking comment were not answered. The junta says Myanmar’s courts are independent and those arrested receive due process.
Myanmar has been trapped in a spiral of violence since the military overthrew an elected government last year. The junta has arrested thousands, including politicians, bureaucrats, students, journalists, and foreigners, as it attempts to smother dissent.
A Japanese freelance journalist was arrested last year and charged with spreading false news in his coverage of anti-coup protests. He was later freed with the junta saying his release was in recognition of the two countries close ties.