Amal Clooney to represent Reuters reporters detained in Burma

Amal Clooney to represent Reuters reporters detained in BurmaProminent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has joined the legal team representing two Reuters reporters jailed in Burma, who are accused of possessing secret government papers, her office said on Thursday. A court in Yangon has been holding preliminary hearings since January to decide whether Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, will be charged under the colonial-era 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. Lawyers for the two reporters on Wednesday asked the court to throw out the case, saying there was insufficient evidence to support charges against the pair in Burma, also known as Myanmar.  “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,” Amal Clooney was quoted as saying in a statement released by her office. “The outcome of this case will tell us a lot about Myanmar’s commitment to the rule of law and freedom of speech,” said Clooney, who is married to actor George Clooney. Zaw Htay, spokesman for Myanmar’s civilian government, declined to comment. Wa Lone, one of the imprisoned journalists, pictured before a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar in March Credit: Reuters Government officials have previously denied the arrests represent an attack on press freedom, which rights advocates say is under growing threat in the Southeast Asian country. Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations, Hau Do Suan, said last month that the Reuters journalists were not arrested for reporting a story, but were accused of “illegally possessing confidential government documents”. Gail Gove, chief counsel of Reuters, said retaining Clooney would strengthen the company’s international legal expertise and broaden efforts to secure the release of the reporters. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been in custody since their arrest on Dec. 12. The pair have told relatives they were arrested almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers at a restaurant in northern Yangon by two policemen they had not met before, having been invited to meet the officers for dinner. The district court in northern Yangon will hear arguments from prosecutors and defence lawyers on the motion to dismiss the case on April 4. Detained Reuters journalist Kyaw Soe Oo, holding his daughter, pictured before a court hearing in Yangon, Myanmar, in March.  Credit: Reuters  


Source: Yahoo! News

'Forgetful' Myanmar witness in Reuters reporters' case writes key detail on his hand

YANGON (Reuters) – A witness in the case of two Reuters reporters jailed in Myanmar told a courtroom on Wednesday that he wrote notes on his hand about where the pair were arrested to jog his memory while giving testimony. The location of the arrests has emerged as a key point of contention in the proceedings to decide whether Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, will be charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.


Source: Reuters