Myanmar's Information Ministry has filed a contempt of court complaint against the publisher and 16 editorial employees of a newspaper it is already suing for defamation, an action critics charge is an attempt at intimidation ahead of elections set for later this year.

The editor-in-chief of the Daily Eleven newspaper, Wai Phyo, said Friday the ministry accused the newspaper of reporting unfairly on the defamation case.

He and three other executives of the newspaper are on trial for defamation after being sued by the ministry over a report alleging irregularities in its purchase of a printing press.

Earlier this week, the human rights group Amnesty International accused Myanmar's government of using threats and harassment to intimidate the media ahead of the polls.