Myanmar dismissed a claim that it is secretly producing chemical arms at a Defense Ministry plant in its central Magwe region, the Associated Press reports.
Its deputy Information minister, Ye Htut, acknowledged the manufacturing facility’s existence, but denounced the Unity journal’s recent account of chemical-warfare activities at the site as “totally baseless,” the wire service reported on Wednesday. Police arrested four reporters and the head of the publication this past weekend on charges of revealing state secrets.
“The journal only quotes local people,” the official told the Irrawaddy for a Tuesday report. “It is a national security issue, and even a country like the U.S. would respond the same way on these matters.”
The Myanmar government appeared to continue its crackdown on Unity on Wednesday, when personnel took into custody a sixth employee of the journal over the chemical-weapons allegation, according to the magazine. He was released after 11 hours.
“They asked me about the news we reported — whether it was true or not,” Aung Win Tun said of his plain-clothed captors, who refused to identify which government branch they represented.
“I told them I didn’t know much” about the report’s assertions, said the employee, who does not hold an editorial role at the journal.