SABEW stands with Reuters in condemning the detentions of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo

The Society for Advancing Business Editing and Writing (SABEW) stands with member news organization Reuters in condemning the detentions of Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and in calling for their immediate release.

Police in Myanmar detained the two reporters on Dec. 12 for allegedly “obtaining state secrets” related to a military crackdown on Rohingya Muslims in the country’s Rakhine state, just after they had been invited to have dinner with two police officers who gave them the documents.

Wa Lone and Soe Oo remain incarcerated in Insein prison on the outskirts of Yangon while their trial is in progress. They face up to 14 years in prison if found guilty. Their next court hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21.

Rights groups and the Myanmar media have accused the police of entrapment and have criticized the country’s civilian government for backpedaling on press freedom.

The government has banned the media from providing independent coverage of the situation in northern Rakhine state, where soldiers have been accused of committing atrocities against the Rohingya during the crackdown.

In a statement in January, Stephen J. Adler, president and editor-in-chief of Reuters, expressed extreme disappointment that Myanmar authorities intended to prosecute Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

“We view this as a wholly unwarranted, blatant attack on press freedom,” Adler said. “Our colleagues should be allowed to return to their jobs reporting on events in Myanmar. We believe time is of the essence, and we continue to call for Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo’s prompt release.”

On Feb. 7, Reuters published a special report with the two journalists’ bylines about events leading to the execution of 10 Rohingya men by Myanmar troops and Buddhist villagers in Rakhine’s Inn Din village. The report said that soldiers and Buddhists neighbors shot or hacked the men to death and buried their bodies in a mass grave.

In response to the report, the U.S. State Department called for an independent investigation into the claims.

At a United Nations Security Council briefing on Myanmar on Feb. 13, the U.S. demanded that authorities free Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.

“[F]or the crime of reporting the truth, the Burmese [Myanmar] government arrested and imprisoned the reporters,” said Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. “They remain incarcerated in Burma without bail. We strongly call for their immediate and unconditional release.”

“The world is watching and waiting for Burma to act,” Haley said. “What we have seen so far is cruel and barbaric. To top it off, they have the gall to blame the media. Unhindered media access is vitally important. Journalists like the two imprisoned Reuters reporters are an indispensable source of information.”

SABEW’s First Amendment Committee is increasingly concerned about the arrests of journalists and attacks on the media by government officials and other authorities in both the U.S. and abroad. The continued imprisonment of Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo by Myanmar authorities for doing their jobs — reporting the news — is unacceptable.

Click here for more information on SABEW’s First Amendment Initiative (#SABEW1stAmendment).

SABEW is the world’s largest organization dedicated to business and financial journalism.

For more information, contact Kathleen Graham, SABEW executive director, at

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