Paris: Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has expressed relief over the release of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo from a prison in Yangon and described it as a victory for press freedom and investigative reporting in Myanmar and throughout the world.
The two reporters had spent a total of 511 days far from their families because they dared to investigate a subject that is banned in Myanmar, the genocide of the country’s Rohingya minority.
Held on trumped-up evidence after being arrested in a trap set by the police in December 2017, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were convicted last September of violating the Official Secrets Act and were given seven-year jail sentences that were confirmed twice on appeal. They were finally pardoned by President Win Myint.
“As well as the release of two individuals who should never have been in prison – Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo – this is a fundamental victory for press freedom and for RSF, which had campaigned constantly ever since their arrest,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk.
“Their case is emblematic of investigative journalism’s importance for the functioning of democracies. We hail the role played by all those civil society actors who, both in Myanmar and internationally, never forgot the fate of these two journalists and kept fighting for them until this successful outcome.”