Rights groups urge release of two jailed journalists
More than 50 international organisations called on Myanmar State Counsselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi to free two journalists who were sentenced to seven years jail each for violating the country’s Official Secrets Act.
The groups issued the appeal through an open letter after lawyers for Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo filed an petition on Monday to reverse the September court ruling.
Aside from human rights organisations, media watch groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, International Federation of Journalists, International Press Institute, and Article 19 signed the open letter.
The letter called for the immediate and unconditional release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, rejection of their convictions, as well as reviews and amendment of laws currently being used to restrict freedom of expression in the country.
“We believe Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo should never have been arrested in the first place, let alone prosecuted, convicted, and imprisoned. Their trial, which was already manifestly unfair, was made more so by the repeated failure to uphold key tenets of the rule of law and to build a convincing evidence-based case against these journalists… We therefore call on the Myanmar authorities to immediately and unconditionally release these two men, and reject the convictions against them” the letter said.
“The outrageous revelations of entrapment and the contradictory evidence during their trial revealed unmistakably that Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were being deliberately framed in response to their efforts to expose the truth through dogged reporting,” said Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America.