Two Reuters journalists in Myanmar jailed for breaking the Official Secrets Act were freed from prison on the outskirts of Yangon on Tuesday, Reuters quoted witnesses as saying. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo spent more than 500 days behind bars.
The chief of Insein prison, Zaw Zaw, confirmed that the two were among 6,520 prisoners given a blanket pardon by President Win Myint, according to AP. Since last month, Myint has pardoned thousands of other prisoners in mass amnesties, Reuters reported. It is customary for authorities to free prisoners across the country around the time of the traditional New Year, which began on April 17.
In September, a lower court had convicted Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and sentenced them to seven years in jail for allegedly leaking official secrets. The two reporters were working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state’s Inn Din village during an Army crackdown in 2017.
The journalists were arrested for reportedly carrying official documents handed to them by police officers. Both have maintained their innocence and claimed that the authorities set them up. On April 23, the top court of Myanmar rejected their appeals. A policeman had earlier told the court that officers had planted secret documents on the two reporters.
The journalists’ investigation uncovering the involvement of security forces in killings, arson and looting was completed by their colleagues and published in 2018. The report won the Pulitzer Prize for international reporting in April.