Reuters journalists freed after 500 days in Myanmar prison

Saul Bowman
Мая 8, 2019

Two Reuters journalists whose reporting on the Myanmar military's abuses of Rohingya Muslims got them imprisoned and drew the world's attention to curbs on freedom of the press were freed Tuesday as part of a mass presidential pardon.

The pair were convicted on charges of violating the official secrets act and sentenced to seven years each.

Two Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar for their reporting of the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya Muslims have been released after spending more than 500 days in jail, according to witnesses.

Two Reuters journalists jailed for investigating atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims have been freed after almost two years in a Burmese prison.

The two men waved and smiled broadly as they walked out of the jail.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were awarded the Pulitzer Prize for global reporting for their work in uncovering the massacre, which they shared with two colleagues who completed the story after their conviction. Their unexpected release, during a mass prisoner amnesty, followed worldwide condemnation over their conviction, which had raised serious questions about Burma's transition to democracy.

"Time to act on the problem that Myanmar's faltering respect for media freedom indicates the dire situation facing human rights and democracy as the country moves toward national elections in 2020".

The reporters' wives wrote a letter to the government in April pleading for a pardon, not, they said, because their husbands had done anything wrong, but because it would allow them to be released from prison and reunited with their families.

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was relieved to learn of the release, a spokesman said.

"Young men who have now proven themselves as world-renowned journalists, they have long and important careers ahead of them carrying out the essential work of holding Myanmar's fledgling new government accountable and keeping their country's deserving public informed", Nossel said.

"Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world".

The two reporters had worked on an investigation of the killings of 10 Muslim villagers in Inn Din village in northern Rakhine for which the government last year said seven soldiers were sentenced to up 10 years in prison with hard labor.

"We are very happy", Chit Su Win, who is married to Kyaw Soe Oo, told AFP. "We welcome their return", Adler said.

"Press freedom is key to the further democratization in #Myanmar".

Kyaw Soe Oo has a three-year-old daughter, while Wa Lone's daughter was born after his arrest.

"But it will be better for democracy and the transition of Myanmar if the president will consider releasing (all) those who are in jail for exercising freedom of expression". "This is unacceptable as they only did their job as journalists".

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