Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters journalists who were convicted in September 2018 for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, were freed in May 2019 after spending more than 500 days in Yangon’s Insein prison.
They were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act and for allegedly leaking secret and classified information sensitive to national security and were sentenced for seven years in prison.
The two journalists were freed from prison post a presidential amnesty, which traditionally happens around New Year in Myanmar. Over six thousand prisoners were freed by the President of Myanmar, Win Myint.
Their incarceration was widely seen as a huge assault on free speech, press freedom, and investigative journalism. It had also sparked a major outcry from human rights organizations and activists across the world.
What were the Two Journalists Investigating?
The two journalists, who are citizens of Myanmar, were investigating and collecting evidence regarding the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in western Myanmar’s Rakhine district. They were arrested before the report could be published and after two policemen who the journalists had never seen before handed over some documents to them at a restaurant. Subsequently, they were arrested of disseminating classified information.
According to various testimonies, this meeting was a trap and the journalists were falsely convicted.
The work of the two journalists was so outstanding that they were also awarded the Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for 2019.
These two courageous journalists were widely seen as a symbol of press freedom around the world and their release has been welcomed by the journalist community across the world.