Pressure Mounts to Release Two Jailed Journalists

By Chris Ariens Comment

International leaders and journalism groups are demanding two Reuters reporters be released from custody in Myanmar.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested Tuesday after being invited by police to meet in an area outside Yangon. The government released this photo of the reporters in handcuffs and said the two “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media.”

Reuters said the reporters had been working on stories about a military crackdown in a region that is the site of what the U.N. calls “textbook example of ethnic cleansing” of Rohingya Muslims.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the U.S. was “demanding their immediate release or information as to the circumstances around their disappearance.”

Secretary of Defense James Mattis said the U.S. is concerned anytime reporters are arrested for doing their jobs.

Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, who is a former journalist, including a stint as editor of Thomson Reuters Digital, tweeted that she was “deeply concerned” by the arrests. “Freedom of the press is essential for democracy and must be preserved,” she said.

“We call on local authorities to immediately, unconditionally release Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement. “These arrests come amid a widening crackdown which is having a grave impact on the ability of journalists to cover a story of vital global importance.”