WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. says is it very concerned that four reporters and a magazine chief executive in Burma have been sentenced to 10 years hard labor for reporting about an alleged weapons factory.

State Department press officer Peter Velasco said Friday the sentence sends the “wrong message” about Burma’s commitment to freedom of expression. He urged Burma to respect the rights of all journalists.

The now-defunct Unity journal printed a story in January that the military had seized farmland for the factory in central Burma and that it would produce chemical weapons. The journal printed a denial by authorities.

Rights groups have condemned the Thursday’s sentencing, and say intimidation and arrests of journalists appears to be worsening in the former pariah state, even as official censorship has been lifted.

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