Bangkok, May 7, 2019– Reuters’ journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were released today from a Yangon prison in Myanmar as part of a presidential pardon, after spending more than 500 days behind bars, Reuters reported. The journalists were released in a mass amnesty of prisoners granted today by President Win Myint, according to reports.
“CPJ is deeply relieved that Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have finally been freed, and reiterates that Myanmar should never have charged and jailed them in the first place,” said CPJ Senior Southeast Asia Representative Shawn Crispin. “May their release herald a new era of press freedom in Myanmar, where reporters no longer fear reprisal merely for doing their jobs.”
The journalists were arrested in December 2017 and sentenced to seven years in prison in September 2018 under Myanmar’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act, according to CPJ research. In April, Myanmar’s Supreme Court rejected a final appeal of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s convictions, CPJ documented. The reporters insisted throughout legal proceedings that they had not committed any crime.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were investigating a massacre of Rohingya men and boys by Myanmar security forces in Rakhine state; their reporting was subsequently published by Reuters in February 2018 and led to seven soldiers being sentenced to prison for their involvement in the killings, according to reports. They were awarded a Pulitzer Prize for their reporting this year.