By: Paige Hubbard
Actor George Clooney on Tuesday (May 7) congratulated his wife, human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, and Reuters on the release of two journalists jailed in Myanmar and said he was very proud of how they had “stuck out for journalism.”
Amal Clooney has been a member of the legal team representing Reuters journalists Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, who were convicted on Sept. 3 under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act and sentenced to seven years in prison.
The two Reuters journalists walked free from prison on Tuesday after more than 500 days behind bars. Speaking after walking the red carpet with Amal Clooney at the ‘Catch-22’ premiere, George Clooney said he learned the news during his birthday dinner.
The case has raised questions about Myanmar’s progress towards democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates. Reuters has said the two men did not commit any crime and had called for their release.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were released under a presidential amnesty for 6,520 prisoners. President Win Myint has pardoned thousands of other prisoners in mass amnesties since last month. It is customary in Myanmar for authorities to free prisoners across the country around the time of the traditional New Year, which began on April 17.
Swamped by media and well-wishers as they walked through the gates of Insein Prison, on the outskirts of Yangon, a grinning Wa Lone gave a thumbs up and said he was grateful for the international efforts to secure their freedom.