'Rare glimmer of hope': Reactions to release of journalists from Myanmar prison

Myanmar frees Reuters journalists jailed for reporting on Rohingya crisis

Two Reuters journalists whose reporting on the Myanmar military's abuses of Rohingya Muslims got them imprisoned and drew the world's attention to curbs on freedom of the press were freed Tuesday as part of a mass presidential pardon.

Wa Lone told reporters after his release that he would continue working as a journalist and he thanked everyone who supported him and Kyaw Soe Oo and their families while they were in Insein Prison.

Reuters has always maintained the innocence of the two as it fought for their release.

The Myanmar government also did not chose to pardon Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo in the annual New Year amnesty this year, which saw 9,000 prisoners released.

The Reuters reporters had worked on an investigation of the killings of 10 Rohingya villagers in Inn Din village, for which the government last year said seven soldiers were sentenced to up 10 years in prison with hard labor.

Reuters colleagues drove them away to be reunited with their wives and children.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was relieved to learn of the release, a spokesman said. On September 3, 2018, the judge ruled that the journalists were not doing "normal journalistic work", that the "top-secret documents they were holding can be useful to the enemies of the country", and sentenced them to seven years in jail.

The case against them became a byword for the war against press freedom and prompted an global campaign that attracted the support of prominent rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who said Tuesday it had been an "honour to represent" her clients.

"I want to thank everyone who helped us in prison, and everyone around the world who called for our release".

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The two were arrested in December 2017 outside a restaurant in Yangon.

"Since their arrests 511 days ago, they have become symbols of the importance of press freedom around the world. It's good news that they're out, but I don't think we can celebrate just yet", he said.

Two Reuters journalists imprisoned in Myanmar for more than a year were freed Tuesday.

The Reuters journalists were released at the prison to representatives of Reuters and to Lord Ara Darzi, a British surgeon and health care expert who has served as a member of an advisory group to Myanmar's government on reforms in Rakhine State.

"I believe in justice, democracy and freedom", he said.

Their case captured global attention and heaped worldwide pressure upon the Myanmar government, led by Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

"We are enormously pleased that Myanmar has released our courageous reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo", Reuters Editor-In-Chief Steve Adler said in a statement.

"It is a relief for them and their relatives, but also a positive step for freedom of the press.it is essential for the good functioning of our democracies that journalists are able to carry out their mission without fearing retaliation".

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