SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Myanmar's verdict on Monday jailing two Reuters reporters for seven years on charges of breaching an official secrets act is a major step backward in the southeast Asian nation's transition to democracy, the agency's Editor in Chief Stephen J Adler said.

"Today is a sad day for Myanmar, Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, and the press everywhere," Adler said in a statement.

"These two admirable reporters have already spent nearly nine months in prison on false charges designed to silence their reporting and intimidate the press.

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"Without any evidence of wrongdoing and in the face of compelling evidence of a police set-up, today’s ruling condemns them to the continued loss of their freedom and condones the misconduct of security forces.

"This is a major step backward in Myanmar’s transition to democracy, cannot be squared with the rule of law or freedom of speech, and must be corrected by the Myanmar government as a matter of urgency.

FILE PHOTO: Detained Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone are escorted by police as they leave after a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, August 20, 2018.
Reuters/Ann Wang/File Photo

"We will not wait while Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo suffer this injustice and will evaluate how to proceed in the coming days, including whether to seek relief in an international forum."

(Writing by Clarence Fernandez; Editing by Philip McClellan)