National Press Club

National Press Club decries continued imprisonment of reporters in Myanmar

April 23, 2019 | By John M. Donnelly | jdonnelly@cq.com

Leaders of the National Press Club expressed outrage about the Myanmar Supreme Court’s decision Monday to uphold the conviction of two Reuters reporters.

The journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, received the Club’s John Aubuchon Award for Press Freedom in 2018. They have also earned a Pulitzer Prize and UNESCO’s press freedom award, and they were recognized in Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” issue.

“We call on Myanmar’s president to reverse this travesty of justice,” said Club President Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak. “These men are heroes, not criminals.”

“These reporters are being punished merely for telling the truth, and that is plainly wrong,” said Barbara Cochran, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, the Club’s nonprofit affiliate.

The two men were convicted last September of possessing state secrets, and each of them was sentenced to seven years in jail.

They had already been imprisoned since December 2017, when they were reporting in Rakhine State on the murders of Rohingya men and boys by security forces.

Authorities are widely believed to have planted secret documents on them in a restaurant to entrap them. A police officer who was a prosecution witness testified to that effect.

The Supreme Court’s decision exhausts the reporters’ legal options in the country.

The National Press Club, the world’s leading professional organization for journalists, represents more than 3,000 reporters, editors and professional communicators worldwide. The Club’s nonprofit affiliate, the National Press Club Journalism Institute, promotes an engaged global citizenry through an independent and free press, and equips journalists with skills and standards to inform the public in ways that inspire civic engagement.