Two Reuters scribes freed in Myanmar after over 500 days behind bars

Naypyitaw [Myanmar]: Two Reuters journalists, who were convicted and jailed in Myanmar for breaking the Official Secrets Act, were freed on Tuesday after spending more than 500 days behind bars.

Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo,29, were convicted in September and sentenced to seven years imprisonment, Al Jazeera reported.

“I am a journalist and I am going to continue. I can’t wait to go to my newsroom,” said Wa.
“We are enormously pleased that Myanmar has released our courageous reporters,” Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said in a statement.

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“Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world. We welcome their return,” he said.

The duo was among the 6,250 prisoners who were pardoned under a presidential amnesty by Myanmar President Win Myint. It is customary of the Myanmar authorities to free prisoners during their traditional New Year, which began on April 17.

The two journalists were taken into custody in December 2017 while they were working on a story into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar’s Rakhine State during an army crackdown that began in August 2017.

They were jailed by a Yangon court for the breach of the official secrets law.

However, the accused journalists maintained that neither of them had done anything wrong. The report the two men authored, featuring testimony from perpetrators, witnesses and families of the victims, was awarded this year’s Pulitzer Prize for international reporting.

Their conviction sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates and raised questions over Myanmar’s progress toward democracy.


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