Pence presses Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to pardon Reuters journalists

US Vice President Mike Pence meets with Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi on the sidelines of an Asia summit in Singapore. (AFP)
Updated 14 November 2018
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Pence presses Myanmar’s Suu Kyi to pardon Reuters journalists

  • Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon in December 2017
  • Lawyers for the two Reuters reporters have lodged an appeal against their conviction

SINGAPORE: US Vice President Mike Pence pressed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi “multiple times” on Wednesday to pardon two Reuters journalists jailed in her country, a senior White House official said.
Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon in December 2017. They were found guilty in September of breaching the Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison.
Pence met Suu Kyi on the sidelines of an Asia summit in Singapore.
“He raised the case of two Reuters journalists in particular and raised the request that a pardon could be made,” a senior White House official told reporters on condition of anonymity. “They had a very candid exchange of views on that.”
The White House official said Pence urged Suu Kyi directly to pardon the Reuters journalists “multiple times.”
The official declined to comment on Suu Kyi’s response in the closed-door meeting.
Lawyers for the two Reuters reporters have lodged an appeal against their conviction.
At the time of their arrest in December, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were working on a Reuters investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim villagers during an army crackdown in Rakhine state.


Turkey remains world’s worst offender against press freedom

Updated 13 December 2018
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Turkey remains world’s worst offender against press freedom

  • A report by the Committee to Protect Journalists said that a near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work
  • The CPJ said there are dozens of reporters missing or kidnapped in the Middle East and North Africa

Turkey remains the world’s worst offender against press freedom, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Thursday, with at least 68 journalists imprisoned for anti-state charges.

Turkey has previously said its crackdown is justified because of an attempted coup to overthrow the government in 2016.

The report said that a near-record number of journalists around the world are behind bars for their work, including two Reuters reporters whose imprisonment in Myanmar has drawn international criticism.

There were 251 journalists jailed for doing their jobs as of Dec. 1, the CPJ said in an annual study. For the third consecutive year, more than half are in Turkey, China and Egypt, where authorities have accused reporters of anti-governmental activities.

“It looks like a trend now,” the report’s author, Elana Beiser, said in an interview. “It looks like the new normal.”

The number of journalists imprisoned on charges of “false news” rose to 28, up from 21 last year and nine in 2016, according to the CPJ, a U.S.-based nonprofit that promotes press freedom.

The report criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for frequently characterizing negative media coverage as “fake news,” a phrase that is also used by leaders against their critics in countries like the Philippines and Turkey.

In Egypt, at least 25 journalists are in prison. Authorities say this is to limit dissent are directed at militants trying to undermine the state.

Meanwhile, when asked about journalists being jailed, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said: “Legal measures are not taken because of these suspects’ or criminals’ professions. This is unrelated.”

The overall number of jailed journalists is down eight percent from last year’s record high of 272, the CPJ said.

The total does not take into account journalists who have disappeared or are being held by non-state actors. The CPJ said there are dozens of reporters missing or kidnapped in the Middle East and North Africa, including several held by Houthis in Yemen.

(With Reuters)