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Myanmar journalist arrested after criticising monk

Yangon, Jul 31 (IANS): Myanmar police have arrested a prominent journalist after he criticised and allegedly defamed a Buddhist monk and leader of an influential extremist organisation, the media reported Monday.

The editor of news portal Myanmar Now, Swe Win, was arrested on Sunday at the Yangon airport while he was about to board a Bangkok-bound plane, reports Efe news.

Earlier this month, Swe Win criticized the controversial monk, Wirathu, leader of the group Ma Ba Tha, for having exalted the assassination of a Muslim lawyer.

He said that Wirathu may have committed "parajika", an act that could result in him being expelled from the monastic community, prompting a follower of the organization to denounce the reporter for defamation.

The journalist faces a possible three-year prison sentence, according to Myanmar Now.

Swe Win, a political spokesman during the previous military government, was given recognition by the government last year for exposing cases of child exploitation in Yangon workshops.

Led by Buddhist monks, Ma Ba Tha is known for its extremist position against the country's Muslim population and has conditioned the government into adopting discriminatory policies against the persecuted Rohingya minority.

Swe win's arrest follows that of three other journalists detained in June after visiting a rebel-controlled area to cover a guerrilla-held event against drug trafficking.

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