Myanmar's Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the jailing of two Reuters journalists, despite international condemnation.
She said Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had broken the law and their conviction had "nothing to do with freedom of expression at all".
The two were sentenced for possession of police documents while investigating the killing of Rohingya Muslims.
Ms Suu Kyi also said the army crackdown against the Rohingya could in hindsight have been handled differently.
The Nobel Peace Prize laureate - who is not Myanmar's elected president but is almost universally viewed as such - had been under intense pressure to comment on both the Rohingya crisis and more recently the journalists.
This week, a UN rights body accused Myanmar of "waging a campaign against journalists".
Ms Suu Kyi broke her silence on the issue on Thursday while attending an international economics conference in Vietnam. In a speech, she said the case upheld the rule of law and suggested that many critics had not actually read the verdict.
The two had "every right to appeal the judgement and to point out why the judgement was wrong", she said.
Human Rights Watch responded to Ms Suu Kyi's speech by saying that she "got it all wrong".
"She fails to understand that real 'rule of law' means respect for evidence presented in court, actions brought based on clearly defined and proportionate laws, and independence of the judiciary from influence by the government or security forces," Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said.
BDST: 1202 HRS, SEPT 13, 2018