Reuters reporters jailed for more than 500 days freed from prison

Myanmar frees Reuters journalists jailed for reporting on Rohingya crisis

Two Reuters reporters jailed for their coverage of the Myanmar military's violence against Rohingya Muslims were released Tuesday after spending 511 days in prison, bringing a long-awaited close to one of the world's most high-profile press freedom cases.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo walk free outside Insein prison after receiving a presidential pardon in Yangon, Myanmar on 7 May, 2019.

"We are enormously pleased that Myanmar has released out courageous reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo". Their unexpected release, during a mass prisoner amnesty, followed worldwide condemnation over their conviction, which had raised serious questions about Burma's transition to democracy.

Prison warden U Zaw Zaw told Frontier that actor Ko Moe Aung Yin, who was given a combined sentence of 17 years in prison late last year for the possession and abuse of drugs, would also be freed.

"The Rohingya community stands with U Wa Lone and U Kyaw Soe Oo today, just as we have every day of their unlawful imprisonment by this complicit Burmese regime".

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was relieved to learn of the release, a spokesman said.

The arrests of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have sparked worldwide outrage among free speech and human rights activists, who saw the case as Myanmar's first real test of freedom of expression since embracing democracy in 2016 after decades under repressive military rule.

"This outcome shows that dialogue works, even in the most hard of circumstances", Darzi said in a statement.

"Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have proven their courage and fortitude, never once wavering in their claims of innocence".

The case raised questions about Myanmar's progress toward democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates.

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Reuters has maintained that the men are innocent. 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.

At the time of their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were working on an investigation of the killings of 10 Rohingya villagers.

"The UN stands ready to continue to support Myanmar in its complex transition process". This is an important humanitarian gesture which I greatly welcome.

"Inside in the prison and also around the world people were wishing to release us so I'd like to say thank you very much for everything", he said, adding he was "really happy - excited - to see my family and colleagues".

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

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"I want to thank everyone who helped us in prison, and everyone around the world who called for our release". "This is unacceptable as they only did their job as journalists". Canada has always been pushing for their release.

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