(Reuters) – Two Reuters journalists jailed in Myanmar after they were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act walked free from prison on Tuesday after spending more than 500 days behind bars.
Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo gesture as they walk free outside Insein prison after receiving a presidential pardon in Yangon, Myanmar, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Myat Thu Kyaw
Following are comments and reactions:
SPOKESMAN FOR UN SECRETARY GENERAL ANTONIO GUTERRES:
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was relieved to learn of the release of the Reuters reporters, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
STEVE ADLER, REUTERS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF:
“We are enormously pleased that Myanmar has released our courageous reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo. Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world. We welcome their return.”
LORD ARA DARZI, MEMBER OF MYANMAR ADVISORY GROUP:
“This outcome shows that dialogue works, even in the most difficult of circumstances.
“The power of dialogue must be turned towards securing a lasting peace in Rakhine State and the return of the hundreds of thousands of refugees, whose desperate plight continues. This is essential if Myanmar is to build on today’s progress so that all its citizens can live together in dignity in the hope of a better tomorrow.”
TUN KHIN, PRESIDENT OF BURMESE ROHINGYA ORGANISATION UK:
“The only people that should be locked up for the Rohingya genocide are those that committed it, not those that helped expose it.
“The Rohingya community stands with U Wa Lone and U Kyaw Soe Oo today, just as we have every day of their unlawful imprisonment by this complicit Burmese regime.”
SHAWN CRISPIN, COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALISTS:
“CPJ … reiterates that Myanmar should never have charged and jailed them in the first place.
“May their release herald a new era of press freedom in Myanmar, where reporters no longer fear reprisal merely for doing their jobs.”
PHIL ROBERTSON, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH:
“These courageous investigative journalists should have never been arrested, much less imprisoned, in the first place and their release is long overdue.”
“Time to act on the problem that Myanmar’s faltering respect for media freedom indicates the dire situation facing human rights and democracy as the country moves toward national elections in 2020.”
UNITED NATIONS IN MYANMAR:
“The UN in Myanmar welcomes the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo from prison. The UN in Myanmar considers the release of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo 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.”
AMAL CLOONEY, COUNSEL TO WA LONE, KYAW SOE OO AND REUTERS:
“Since taking on this case over a year ago, I have witnessed incredible determination by Reuters, in particular editor-in-chief Steve Adler and Chief Counsel Gail Gove, in their pursuit of justice for their brave reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.
“It is inspiring to see a news organization so committed to the protection of innocent men and the profession of journalism.
“It has been an honor to represent Reuters and the two journalists in this case and I hope that their release signals a renewed commitment to press freedom in Myanmar.”
SUZANNE NOSSEL, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF PEN AMERICA:
“Although Myanmar has failed shamefully to redress the injustice of their trumped-up arrest and conviction on spurious evidence, we are relieved that their ordeal behind bars is over.
“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have proven their courage and fortitude, never once wavering in their claims of innocence.
Editing by Darren Schuettler