YANGON, Myanmar, Jan. 8 (UPI) -- A former army major and a foreign ministry official were sentenced to death for leaking government information, sources at a Myanmar prison said.
The two were found guilty of passing details of supposedly secret Myanmar government visits to North Korea and Russia in 2006 and 2008. They also allegedly passed on information about military tunnels now under construction, the BBC and the news magazine Irrawaddy reported.
The ruling military has made no public statement on the case whose trial took place at the city's Insein Prison.
A third person, Pyan Sein, was jailed for 15 years by the same court in Yangon, the BBC source added.
The Irrawaddy Web site report said that Win Naing is a former personal staff officer assigned to the late Lt. Gen. Tin Oo, who was a member of the country's governing State Peace and Development Council. Win was sentenced to death under the State Emergency Act for leaking military secrets to exiled media.
All three men were arrested after information and photos about Gen. Shwe Mann's trip to North Korea were leaked to exiled news outlets last year, Irrawaddy said. The government's foreign trips reportedly involved buying military arms as well as tunnel-building information and contracts.
Dozens of other officials in the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Col. Kyaw Kyaw Win, who was director general of the SPDC, were also arrested, military sources said. The status of their cases is not known.
Although Myanmar, formerly called Burma, has capital punishment, it has not executed anyone since 1993, amounting to a de facto ban on capital punishment, Amnesty International said.
The military has never admitted to having a network of tunnels but speculation over the past five years has centered on North Korean technicians employed to design and construct underground passages that could be used for anything from nuclear fallout shelters for the junta to communications centers, weapons factories and havens for troops.
Various Web sites, including Irrawaddy, published pictures in recent months said to be of the tunnels and noted that some are located in and around the new capital city Naypyidaw. The military moved its administration from the old capital Rangoon -- now called Yangon -- 300 miles to Naypyidaw, a city that was carved out of the jungle.
A memorandum of understanding signed between Myanmar and North Korea, which Irrawaddy says it has seen, states Myanmar plans to build a military headquarters facility with a maze of underground tunnels around Naypyidaw.
A report by the BBC Asia Pacific service in June showed a series of photos that were purported to be of tunnel construction. They were originally sent by Myanmarese exiles working for the Norway broadcaster Democratic Voice of Burma, the BBC noted.
The tunnels might also be part of hydroelectric projects, which would be designated sensitive sites because military engineers are responsible for their design and construction.
However, a report last October by the independent Myanmar news agency Narinjara, set up in 2001 in Bangladesh and run by exiles from Myanmar's Rakhine State, said that some tunnels are used to store fighter planes.
In Rakhine State, formerly called Arakan State, the military has constructed tunnels and bunkers near the town of Ann -- home to Myanmar's military Western Command -- to keep the air force's jets, an unnamed military source said. Rakhine is situated on the western Bay of Bengal coast.
The tunnels are located in Mae Daung Mountain, 10 miles north of Ann and are intended to be connected with the air base, the Narinjara source said. The military has been increasing its strength in state because it is in a strategic location on the Bay of Bengal, which is rich in natural resources.