Reuters is hoping an “immediate” presidential pardon can be arranged for its two journalists sentenced to 7 years of hard labor in September for violating the Official Secrets Act while reporting on the massacre of Rohingyas amid a government-backed crackdown.
Speaking this week, the international wire service’s president and editor in chief, Stephen Adler, called for the pair’s release, while also discussing press freedom and journalism in the era of “fake news.”
“Just today, the High Court accepted to hear our appeal so at least we hope to be able to go forward on that,” Adler told CNN’s Amanpour on Wednesday.
“What we really want to happen is for there to be a pardon, which is really in the hands of Aung San Suu Kyi because a pardon can happen immediately.”
The Myanmar High Court allowed an appeal in the Reuters case to proceed earlier in November, but the pair’s defense team only received confirmation of the fact earlier this week.
The case against the duo has been internationally condemned with a now-jailed police officer revealing a plot to “trap” the two journalists concocted by the Myanmar police chief, a fact corroborated by a former police captain in open testimony.
Adler reiterated the consensus of observers, human rights activists and diplomats: that the journalists were simply doing their jobs and were set up in an unfair trial.
“We just want to get these wonderful journalists out. They’ve been in prison almost a year. They’re entirely innocent. Almost single observer of that trial recognized that it was a complete sham and a total set up.”
Before their arrest, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo had led a Reuters investigation that uncovered the massacre of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by Myanmar security forces and local Buddhists in Rakhine State.
The massacre happened during the brutal military campaign of murder, rape and destruction that drove out 700,000 Rohingya Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh.
“These were people who were just reporting, just doing their jobs and we just want to see them out,” Adler said.