Saturday 21 April 2018

Amal rallies to cause of jailed Myanmar reporters

Amal Clooney has joined the legal team representing two Reuters reporters jailed by the Myanmar authorities. Photo: Robert Kamau/GC Images
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team representing two Reuters reporters jailed by the Myanmar authorities. Photo: Robert Kamau/GC Images

Karla DeWintours

Amal Clooney has joined the legal team representing two Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar, who are accused of possessing secret government papers.

A court in Yangon - formerly Rangoon - has been holding preliminary hearings to decide whether Wa Lone (31) and Kyaw Soe Oo (28) will be charged under the Officials Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The journalists had been working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men in western Burma's Rakhine state during an army crackdown that began in August, which has sent nearly 700,000 people fleeing to Bangladesh.

"Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are being prosecuted simply because they reported the news. I have reviewed the case file and it is clear beyond doubt that the two journalists are innocent and should be released immediately," said Ms Clooney, a prominent human rights lawyer who is married to Hollywood superstar George Clooney.

"The outcome will tell us a lot about Myanmar's commitment to the rule of law and freedom of speech."

Lawyers have asked for the case to be thrown out, citing insufficient evidence.

Myanmar's UN ambassador, Hau Do Suan, has said the journalists were accused of "illegally possessing confidential government documents".

Gail Gove, legal chief at Reuters, said Ms Clooney would strengthen the company's international legal expertise and broaden efforts to secure the reporters' release.

Irish Independent

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