Ms Bowman, who runs a group promoting ethical business practices in Myanmar, and her spouse Htein Lin, an artist and former political prisoner, were arrested on August 24 for staying at an address different to the one she had registered under. Various foreigners, including US, British, Japanese and Australian citizens, have been held since the military seized power last year, arrests that human rights groups say are designed to discourage dissent and create a climate of fear.
The Myanmar Now news site reported the verdict by a closed-doors court inside Insein prison on the outskirts of Yangon, the commercial capital.
The sentences were confirmed by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners activist group and a source with knowledge of the ruling, who declined to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to media.
A spokesperson for Britain’s foreign office said: “We will continue to support Ms Bowman and her family until their case is resolved.”
Myanmar’s military government did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
It has been condemned globally for its behind-closed-doors trials and tough sentences for relatively minor offences.
The junta insists the courts are independent and those jailed are lawbreakers.
She said: “We are deeply shocked that the de facto authorities sought to punish people committed to the development of the country.”
Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director for campaigns, said: “Since the coup, we have seen activists, artists, journalists, students, business owners, and medical professionals arbitrarily detained and jailed by the military on the slightest pretext.
“The latest reports on the conviction of the former UK ambassador and her Burmese artist husband are extremely concerning.”
She added: “Myanmar’s military has a notorious track record of arresting and jailing people on politically motivated or trumped-up charges.
“More than 15,000 people have been arrested since the military seized power in a coup last year, and many are languishing in a vast network of detention and interrogation facilities where they have faced torture or other ill-treatment.”
A recent Amnesty report, 15 Days Felt like 15 Years, highlighted harsh conditions in Myanmar detention facilities, with torture and other ill-treatment used to crush resistance to the coup.