Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar released after more than 500 days

Two Reuters journalists who were jailed for more than 500 days for their reporting on human rights abuses in Myanmar have been freed after receiving a presidential pardon.

Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, were sentenced to seven years in prison in September after they investigated the killings of Rohingya Muslims at the hands of troopers and Buddhist villagers. Prosecutors claimed that the reportersacquired keep of private country documents, in violation of the country’s colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

Lone and Soe Oo walked free Tuesday morning after receiving a pardon from Myanmar President Win Myint, who planned to release extra than 6,000 prisoners Tuesday, the information company reported.
“We are especially thrilled that Myanmar has released our brave reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo,” Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said in a statement. “Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world. We welcome their return.”
The journalists had been awarded the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting last month.

“I’m simply completely satisfied and excited to see my household and my colleagues,” a grinning Wa Lone told reporters gathered outdoor the penitentiary Tuesday. “I can’t wait to go to my newsroom.”

Before their arrests in December 2017, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been investigating the murder of 10 Rohingya in Rakhine kingdom at some stage in an onslaught of violent massacres towards the minority group. Their file was onceposted in February 2018.

Myanmar’s Supreme Court had rejected the journalists’ final appeal last month after an earlier appeal was dismissed by the Yangon High Court in January.

In a statement Tuesday, the United Nations in Myanmar called the journalists’ release “a step toward improving the freedom of the press and a sign of Government’s commitment to Myanmar’s transition to democracy.”

“The UN stands ready to continue to support Myanmar in its complex transition process,” the statement said.

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