Reuters journalists reunited with families after release from jail

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 7, 2019 - Duration: 02:06s

Reuters journalists reunited with families after release from jail

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were reunited with their families after spending more than 500 days behind bars, sparking worldwide celebration and praise.

Michelle Hennessy reports.

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Reuters journalists reunited with families after release from jail

Two Reuters journalists were reunited with their families on Tuesday (May 7) after being separated for more than 500 days.

The two fathers were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act in Myanmar, and sentenced to seven years in jail.

Wa Lone held his daughter for the first time as a free man - his wife gave birth to their first child while he and Kyaw Soe Oo were detained.

Their release on Tuesday, under a presidential amnesty, sparked celebrations in Reuters newsrooms worldwide, as their colleagues watched live.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS JOURNALIST WA LONE SAYING: "I would like to say thank you very much for everything.

I'm really happy to get to see my family, my colleagues, and I really can't wait to go back to my newsroom." Their case sparked outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates, and raised questions about Myanmar's progress toward democracy.

Before their arrest in late 2017 - Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and Buddhist civilians in Rakhine State during an army crackdown that began in August 2017.

The U.N.

Estimates more than 730,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh during the operation.

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Steven Adler praised the journalists shortly after their release: (SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS EDITOR-IN-CHIEF STEPHEN J.

ADLER, SAYING: "We are enormously pleased that Myanmar has released our courageous reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

Since their arrest five hundred and eleven days ago they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world." Calls to a spokesman for the Myanmar government were not immediately answered.

Human rights groups, foreign governments and the United Nations also praised the decision on Tuesday.

Amal Clooney, who acted as a lawyer and counsel to Reuters on the case said, quote: "It is inspiring to see a news organization so committed to the protection of innocent men and the profession of journalism."

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