Vice President Mike Pence drew attention on Twitter to the detention of two Reuters journalists by the Myanmar government on Thursday after he retweeted a heartfelt tweet from a colleague of one of the journalists.
“This is my Reuters colleague Kyaw Soe Oo, in handcuffs, saying goodbye to his 3-year-old daughter outside a Yangon court today,” Andrew RC Marshall, special correspondent for Reuters, tweeted. “He and Wa Lone (right) are brave and decent men who face 14 years in jail simply for doing their jobs.”
Marshall’s tweet was then retweeted by Washington Post reporter Michelle Boorstein, who encouraged others to retweet the post by saying it “should be retweeted millions of times.” Pence retweeted Boorstein in response.
Last month, Reuters reporters Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo were arrested for reportedly obtaining “important secret papers” from police officers. They were accused of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act.
The reporters had covered the crisis in Rakhine, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have escaped into nearby Bangladesh following a military crackdown after police posts were attacked by Rohingya insurgents.
Myanmar prosecutors sought charges Wednesday against Lone and Oo, who were brought to court and left court in handcuffs, under the Official Secrets Act. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
In response, Reuters president and editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said he viewed the effort to prosecute the journalists as an attack on the media and that the organization would press forward with its effort to get the two released.
“We view this as a wholly unwarranted, blatant attack on press freedom,” he 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.”