GENEVA – The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday called for the immediate release of two journalists who have been held in Myanmar since December for allegedly violating the Official Secrets Act.
At the bi-weekly press briefing in Geneva, UN human rights spokesman Rupert Colville condemned the continued detention of the two Reuters journalists and reiterated that they should be immediately released, a day after a court in Mingaladon denied them bail.
The circumstances under which Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested in Yangon on Dec.12 remain unclear, according to the UN.
The two reporters, who had been working on stories related to a military offensive in western Myanmar’s restive Rakhine region, were arrested after having been invited to meet two policemen at a restaurant to allegedly obtain classified documents on the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya minority.
The official secrets legislation that the two reporters have been accused of violating carries a maximum jail sentence of 14 years.
The UN, which has already expressed concern over the serious erosion of freedom of expression in Myanmar, is in touch with both journalists and Myanmar authorities regarding the case.