Myanmar Journalists Arrested
Reuters journalist Wa Lone (2nd L) is escorted by police after a court appearance in Yangon, Jan. 10, 2018. Getty Images

Two Pulitzer prize-winning Reuters journalists, who were convicted of breaking the Official Secrets Act of Myanmar, have been released from prison in Yangon after receiving Presidential pardon. They were imprisoned for more than a year for reporting the Rohingya crisis in the country.

Wa Lone (33) and Kyaw Soe Oo (29) were sentenced to seven years in prison in September under the colonial-era Official Secret Act for receiving important documents from a police officer, reported the New York Times. The pair received this year’s Pulitzer Prize for International reporting in April. Their investigation raised several questions on the killings of Rohingya Muslims at the hands of soldiers.

The journalists have now received pardon from Myanmar President Win Myint, who has released thousands of prisoners since last month. The pardon is a part of Myanmar’s custom to release prisoners around the time of their traditional New Year, which began on April 17, reported Reuters.

Their case gained international attention with journalists and human rights activists calling for their release ever since their arrest in 2017. Lone and Soe Oo were arrested while investigating the killings of ten Rohingya men in the state of Rakhine during a violent massacre against the minority group in the country. This report was published in February 2018.

Their defence lawyers argued that the evidence against Lone and Soe Oo was fabricated by the police and the information they received was already public. During their trial they testified that they were arrested so quickly that they never had the chance to even look at those documents.

After their final appeal was rejected by the Myanmar Supreme court in April, their lawyer said that their final chance at release was through petitioning the country’s President and Legislature, The New York Times reported.

The United Nations in Myanmar said in a statement on Tuesday that they welcomed the Journalist’s release, calling it “a step towards improving freedom of press and a sign of Government's commitment to Myanmar's transition to democracy." UN also offered to support Myanmar through this complex transition.