National Press Club

National Press Club condemns continued detention of reporters in Myanmar

December 29, 2017 | By Rachel Oswald | racheloswald@cqrollcall.com

The National Press Club and the National Press Club Journalism Institute condemned today the continued detention of two Reuters reporters in Myanmar and urged the government there to promptly release them.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been in custody since December 12th on accusations of breaching the government's Official Secrets Act. The two journalists had been covering the Rohinga human rights crisis in Rakhine state.

The duo had a meeting at a restaurant with two Myanmarese police officers on Dec. 12, where they were handed rolled up documents and told they could open them at home, according to Lone's wife, Pan Ei Mon, who spoke at a news conference this week in Yangon. After the journalists paid their bill and left the restaurant, "they were immediately grabbed by around seven or eight policemen who handcuffed them and arrested them," Pan Ei Mon told reporters.

The Myanmar Ministry of Information has said the police have accused the journalists of "possessing information and secret government documents related to Rakhine state and security forces," Reuters reported.

The journalists insist they never violated the country's media law.

A Myanmarese court decided on Dec. 27 to extend the reporters' detention for at least two more weeks. The journalists have been allowed to meet with their families and an attorney.

"We call upon the government of Myanmar to release Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who appear to have been arrested on spurious grounds," said Jeffrey Ballou, NPC president. "These men were doing their job and journalism is not a crime."

"If the Myanmar government wishes to become a stable, prosperous and thriving nation, it must accept that freedom of the press and respect for human rights is an integral part of achieving that," said Barbara Cochran, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute.

The National Press Club, based in Washington, D.C., is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. The National Press Club Journalism Institute conducts professional training for journalists and convenes programs on press freedom.

Contact: Rachel Oswald: racheloswald@cqrollcall.com; 202-486-9173.