Reuters has called for the “prompt release” of two of its journalists jailed in Myanmar when reporting on the Rohingya crisis.
Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, were declined bail last week after they were jailed in December for allegedly violating the country’s official secrets act while reporting on state crackdowns in Rakhine state.
Than Zaw Aung, the defence lawyer for the reporters, maintains that the official documents at the centre of the case were publicly available and had already been published in newspaper reports- a fact he claims has been acknowledged by the police.
Judge Ye Lwin said their alleged defence was “non-bailable” and gave no further elaboration on the decision.
Myanmar police have said previously that the documents contained information on security operations in an area of Rakhine.
A spokesperson for Reuters said: “Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are journalists who perform a crucial role in shedding light on issues of global interest.
“We believe that the ongoing court proceedings will demonstrate their innocence and they will be able to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar.”
“We are grateful for the expressions of support for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and continue to call for their prompt release.”
United Nations secretary general Antonio Guterres has also urged the international community “to do whatever it can” to release the reporters following the recent decision.
A Myanmar police officer, who was part of the team that arrested two Reuters journalists, has today told the court that he had burned the notes he made at the time, but gave no reason why he had done so, Reuters has reported.
Picture: Reuters/Antoni Slodkowski