Deputy information minister and presidential spokesperson U Ye Htut has resurfaced after a weeklong absence from the press (and social media) in the wake of the Unity Journal verdict, apparently having taken leave to study in the US.

Taking to Facebook upon his return, he dispelled rumours that the demonstrators who staged a silent protest against the Unity Journal sentences would not face charges if they were to apologise to the president.

“I didn’t conduct any interviews with media except RFA in recent days. [On July 15] Voice of American was requesting an interview and asking the question ‘did you announce forgiveness of the journalists involved in the silent strike?’ and I declared that I never said that”, his July 15 Facebook status read.

“The news that [I] said the president will forgive the silent-striker journalists if they apologise are just rumour. And I am not running away from Facebook, like some internet gossipers said,” he continued.

U Ye Htut went on to state that he took leave from his duties in Nay Pyi Taw on July 3, traveling to the US capital to attend a two-week course on foreign policy at Washington University.

The protest in question took place on July 12 at the Myanmar Peace Center, where president U Thein Sein was attending a meeting with local artists. Journalists staged a media boycott, laying their cameras down and not covering the event. Several appeared with tape over their mouths, wearing t-shirts bearing the slogan “Do not kill our media”.

Local news outlets have since reported some of those demonstrating would face charges for unlawful assembly.

The protest was staged in response to the 10-year sentences handed down to four reporters and the CEO of Unity Journal last week.

Ye Htut, known for his high level engagement on Facebook, had not posted anything since early July.

“Since I am here attending the class, I am a student. I have to study hard and my statuses will only be seen on Facebook only after I finished the training course here and returned to my duties and my country,” he explained.