Reuters journalists Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo, face up to 14 years in prison for their reporting in Myanmar. (Reuters/Antoni Slodkowski)
Reuters journalists Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo, who are based in Myanmar, are pictured at the Reuters office in Yangon, Myanmar, on December 11, 2017. The pair were arrested on December 12. (Reuters/Antoni Slodkowski)

Myanmar must free Reuters journalists, drop investigation

Washington, D.C., January 8, 2018–The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Myanmar authorities to cease all legal proceedings and release from jail two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, whose work involved reporting on conflict-ridden Rakhine state. The two were arrested December 12 on suspicions of violating Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries maximum penalties of 14 years in prison. They have not been formally charged.

“The proceedings against Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are a transparent attempt to intimidate the media and to prevent coverage of the unfolding tragedy of the Rohingya people in Myanmar’s Rakhine state,” said Steven Butler, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “The two reporters should not be in jail for trying to uncover the truth about this story of vital public interest.”

The two journalists are expected to appear in court on January 10, when the prosecutor could request that charges be filed, Reuters reported yesterday.