Amal Clooney Will Represent Two Journalists Detained in Myanmar in Court
“I have reviewed the case file and it is clear beyond doubt that the two journalists are innocent.”
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney has never backed down from taking on challenging cases.
Since last year, she has represented Nadia Murad, a Yazidi woman who had been held captive as a sex slave for the Islamic State (ISIS) — calling on the United Nations to prosecute ISIS through the International Criminal Court.
Now, Clooney has joined the legal team defending two Reuters journalists, who have been imprisoned in Myanmar for months on charges of violating the country’s Officials Secrets Act, The Guardian reported.
The journalists — Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo — were arrested in Myanmar after being handed rolled up pieces of paper while meeting a pair of cops at a restaurant, according to The Guardian.
Myanmar’s Ministry of Information has said Lone and Oo were arrested for “possessing important and secret government documents related to Rakhine State and security forces” that they had acquired illegally and planned to leak to foreign press, Reuters wrote.
Clooney maintains they did nothing wrong.
“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are being prosecuted simply because they reported the news,” Clooney said in a statement. “I have reviewed the case file and it is clear beyond doubt that the two journalists are innocent and should be released immediately.”
Freedom House, which monitors press freedom around the world, has warned that members of the press in Myanmar face “physical violence, intimidation, and harassment” — and ranked the country 73 out of 100 for press freedom, with 0 being the most free and 100 being the least free.
“The detention of journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo and the threat of bringing serious formal charges against them for covering the crisis in Rakhine State threatens the ability of all journalists in Myanmar to report on sensitive topics without fear of reprisal,” Freedom House president Michael J. Abramowitz said in a statement in January.
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Lone and Oo, who were reporting on the killing of 10 Rohingya men in the state of Rakhine, have now appeared in court 11 times and have spent more than 100 days in prison, The Guardian reports.
On Wednesday, the journalists’ defense lawyers called for the case to be dismissed, saying: “At this stage, after we’ve examined 17 witnesses, there’s nothing in the preliminary testimonies so they should be released now without being charged.”