Myanmar released 2 Reuters journalists on Tuesday who were convicted for breaking the Official Secrets Act. Following the presidential amnesty, Myanmar freed both the journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo who were behind the bars for more than 500 days. According to the reports, they were jailed in September last year for reporting and questioning about Myanmar’s progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.  

On the release of their journalists, Reuters said that both of them did not commit any crime and had called for their release. Under the presidential amnesty, 6,520 prisoners were released and Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were also among the prisoners released. It was not the first that Myanmar released prisoners, last month also on the orders of President Win Myint thousands of other prisoners were released.

It is customary in Myanmar for authorities to free prisoners across the country around the time of the traditional New Year, which began on April 17.

As they were released from jail, Wa Lone showed a thumbs up to the media and said that he is grateful for the international efforts to secure their freedom. He added that he is really happy and excited to see his family and my colleagues and can’t wait to go to the newsroom again.

Kyaw Soe Oo smiled and also waved to reporters. The two were then driven away by Reuters colleagues and reunited with their wives and children.

Before their arrest, Reuters journalists were working on an investigation case of killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims allegedly by security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar. 

Praising the release of the journalists, the United Nations office in Myanmar welcomed the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. In its official statement, UN said, the United Nations in Myanmar considers the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo a step toward improving the freedom of the press and a sign of Government’s commitment to transition to democracy.

 

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