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Japanese journalist indicted in Myanmar to be freed Fri.: military

YANGON (Kyodo) -- A Japanese freelance journalist detained by security forces in Myanmar in mid-April and accused of spreading "fake news" will be released Friday, a military spokesman said.

    Yuki Kitazumi, 45, has already been moved to a police facility from the prison where he had been held following his arrest on April 18, the spokesman said.

    The Japanese Embassy in Myanmar said its staff spoke with Kitazumi by phone on Wednesday and found he has no health issues. The embassy also confirms the military's plan to release him.

    According to the state-run TV, the junta's information office said Kitazumi had been arrested and indicted for supporting the anti-coup civil disobedience movement and violent protests, and for not complying with visa regulations.

    "Although the Japanese journalist Mr. Yuki Kitazumi has broken some laws, the charges against him will be withdrawn and he will be released," the State Administration Council Information Team reportedly said.

    It said the decision was made "in consideration of cordial relations between Myanmar and Japan up to now and in view of future bilateral relations, and upon the request of the Japanese government special envoy on Myanmar's national reconciliation."

    Kitazumi could have faced a jail term of up to three years if convicted under the penal code as amended after the Feb. 1 military coup.

    The journalist, who previously worked at the Tokyo-based Nikkei business daily, had covered anti-government protests and posted online through such means as social media information deemed to be critical of the military.

    Kitazumi had been detained previously while covering an anti-military protest on Feb. 26, but he was released later in the day.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato, Japan's top government spokesman, had demanded during a regular briefing on April 20 that the security forces in Myanmar release Kitazumi.

    The military has stepped up its crackdown on the press, and according to the internet media "Reporting ASEAN," 80 journalists have been detained.

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