Amal Clooney calls on Myanmar to pardon jailed Reuters journalists

Prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney on Friday called on Myanmar officials to release two Reuters jour...

Posted: Sep 29, 2018 8:55 AM
Updated: Sep 29, 2018 8:55 AM

Prominent human rights lawyer Amal Clooney on Friday called on Myanmar officials to release two Reuters journalists who have been imprisoned since last year.

Clooney represents the reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who were arrested in December and accused of exposing state secrets. They were sentenced to seven years in prison September 3. Both men pleaded not guilty.

"Two innocent men are in prison in Myanmar for doing nothing more than tell the truth," Clooney said at an event held at the United Nations by the Committee to Protect Journalists. The event was intended to call attention to several cases involving journalists who have been jailed around the world, including in Myanmar, Bangladesh, Egypt and Kyrgyzstan.

"You don't need to take my word for it," she added. "Every single observer of this trial has agreed that it was a farce."

Clooney has been representing Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo since March, but Friday marked her first public appearance related to the case. She called the story laid out by prosecutors "not only fabricated, but totally implausible."

According to Reuters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were detained late last year while working on stories about the killings of Rohingya Muslims, a minority population in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Rohingya Muslims have fled the country in the wake of a military crackdown. Both the UN and the US have described the campaign as ethnic cleansing. Myanmar's military has denied most of the allegations.

Earlier this month, Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's de facto leader, said at the World Economic Forum in Vietnam that there were ways the refugee situation "could have been handled better," but she added that her government had attempted to ensure "development and rule of law" in the Rakhine state.

In February, while the reporters were still awaiting trial, Reuters published a special investigation with their bylines. It documented a massacre of 10 Rohingya men reportedly carried out by Buddhist villagers and Myanmar troops.

Reuters described the groundbreaking report as the first time that soldiers and paramilitary police had been implicated in testimony from security personnel.

The families of the two men are asking for a pardon, Clooney said — a measure she described as the only way to free them.

Clooney also appealed directly to Suu Kyi. The Nobel laureate was once praised for helping Myanmar transition from a military junta to semi-democracy, but her legacy has been questioned in the wake of the Rohingya crisis.

"She has spoken so frequently of the need for the rule of law," Clooney said. "We are hopeful that since these are the principles she has herself espoused, that she will step in and try and correct the injustice in this case."

So far, Suu Kyi has defended the government's decision. At the forum in Vietnam, she said the reporters "were not jailed because they were journalists" but for breaking the country's colonial-era Official Secrets Act.

"I wonder whether very many people have actually read the summary of the judgment which had nothing to do with freedom of expression at all, it had to do with the Official Secrets Act. But I don't think anybody has actually bothered to read it," Suu Kyi said, adding the two men were free to appeal the judgment.

--CNNMoney's Charles Riley contributed to this story.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 482902

Reported Deaths: 9425
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33063488
Hinds31021589
DeSoto30610358
Jackson23687348
Rankin21340370
Lee14909220
Madison14166271
Jones13404227
Forrest13160240
Lauderdale11601305
Lowndes10443176
Lamar10214130
Pearl River9098221
Lafayette8241137
Hancock7514112
Washington7102150
Oktibbeha6964124
Monroe6514164
Neshoba6475201
Warren6464164
Pontotoc630393
Panola6250126
Marshall6126123
Bolivar6115144
Union574186
Pike5613136
Alcorn537290
Lincoln5303131
George471472
Scott459196
Leflore4476140
Prentiss446779
Tippah446480
Itawamba4444100
Adams4416116
Tate4394101
Simpson4335112
Wayne433066
Copiah431787
Yazoo423386
Covington415792
Sunflower4148104
Marion4099104
Leake397586
Coahoma3957100
Newton370875
Grenada3556104
Stone350860
Tishomingo336289
Attala325387
Jasper314162
Winston304691
Clay296473
Chickasaw287065
Clarke282190
Calhoun266141
Holmes262187
Smith250649
Yalobusha221047
Tallahatchie220450
Walthall211058
Greene209045
Lawrence206833
Perry199953
Amite198452
Webster196542
Noxubee178939
Montgomery172454
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162137
Tunica153334
Benton142535
Kemper138640
Choctaw127026
Claiborne126834
Humphreys126637
Franklin116728
Quitman103926
Wilkinson101936
Jefferson91333
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1926
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 789054

Reported Deaths: 14022
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1115991765
Mobile708511234
Madison49865633
Shelby36274315
Baldwin36242495
Tuscaloosa33931548
Montgomery33190678
Lee22680220
Calhoun21211410
Morgan19816335
Etowah19300462
Marshall17680274
Houston16823386
St. Clair15442305
Cullman14602258
Limestone14581188
Elmore14480264
Lauderdale13520281
Talladega12958236
DeKalb12199237
Walker10588330
Blount9720157
Autauga9667137
Jackson9385158
Coffee8882175
Dale8609173
Colbert8534184
Tallapoosa6673181
Escambia6591121
Covington6452167
Chilton6385144
Russell607255
Franklin5795101
Chambers5416134
Marion4800120
Dallas4705189
Clarke463279
Pike462397
Geneva4413117
Winston425895
Lawrence4117108
Bibb409381
Barbour347270
Marengo326285
Monroe320053
Butler318290
Randolph305956
Pickens305274
Henry301858
Hale292685
Cherokee289855
Fayette279673
Washington245448
Crenshaw238470
Cleburne235851
Clay228565
Macon220158
Lamar197743
Conecuh182046
Lowndes170758
Coosa170235
Wilcox159736
Bullock149243
Perry136537
Sumter124536
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 69°
Columbus
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 69°
Oxford
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 68°
Starkville
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 66°
While some cool mornings are again in store for the weekend, afternoons start to warm up a bit, so plan on dressing in layers if you're heading to the MSU or Bama games, because you'll need to utilize them in different ways.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather