Myanmar court extends detention of AP journalist

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Thein Zaw family

FILE - This undated family file photo provided on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 shows Associated Press journalist Thein Zaw in Yangon, Myanmar. A court in Myanmar is scheduled to hold a hearing on Friday, March 12, 2021 for Zaw while covering demonstrations against the military's seizure of power on Feb. 27, 2021 in Yangon. He is facing a charge that could send him to prison for three years. (Thein Zaw family via AP, File)

YANGON – A court in Myanmar extended on Friday the pretrial detention of an Associated Press journalist who was arrested while covering demonstrations against a coup. He is facing a charge that could send him to prison for three years.

Thein Zaw, 32, was one of nine media workers taken into custody during a protest on Feb. 27 in Yangon, the country’s largest city, and has been held without bail. His next hearing at the Kamayut Township court will be on March 24.

Friday's hearing, which Thein Zaw attended via videoconference, came at the end of his initial remand period.

Thein Zaw and at least six other members of the media have been charged with violating a public order law, according to his lawyer, Tin Zar Oo, and the independent Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Separate hearings were held Friday for the other detained journalists.

Tin Zar Oo and one of Thein Zaw's brothers were allowed into the courtroom to take part in the 10-minute videoconference. Tin Zar Oo said she was able to submit documents giving her power of attorney for the case, but only at the next hearing might be allowed to submit a bail application.

A representative of the U.S. Embassy was also present, said Aryani Manring, a spokeswoman for the mission.

Thein Zaw had not been seen by his lawyer or any of his family members since his arrest. Tin Zar Oo said visits at Insein Prison, where her client is being held, are not allowed because of coronavirus concerns, so his family has been dropping off food and supplies for him at the gate.

Tin Zar Oo said that her client looked healthy during Friday's hearing, but he suffers from asthma at night. She said Thein Zaw’s brother noted that he had lost weight.