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UN chief urges Myanmar government to free Reuters journalists

The two Reuters reporters were convicted on 3 September under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act in a case that was seen as a test of democratic freedoms in Myanmar.

FILE: Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo (C) talks to the media as he leaves after a court appearance in Yangon on 10 January 2018. Picture: AFP.

WASHINGTON - UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday called on the Myanmar government to pardon and release two imprisoned Reuters journalists as soon as possible.

“I hope that the government will be able to provide a pardon to release them as soon as possible,” Guterres told reporters at the United Nations in response to a question about Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent remarks on the case.

Reuters reporters Wa Lone (32) and Kyaw Soe Oo (28) were convicted on 3 September under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act in a case that was seen as a test of democratic freedoms in Myanmar.

The reporters, who pleaded not guilty, said they were handed rolled papers by police shortly before they were detained last December, and a police witness testified in court that they had been set up.

The reporters had been investigating the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by security forces and local Buddhists amid a military response to insurgent attacks last August.

Some 700,000 Rohingya crossed from Myanmar into Bangladesh fleeing the crackdown, which UN-mandated investigators said last month was launched by senior Myanmar generals with “genocidal intent”.

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