Pence calls for release of convicted Reuters journalists in Myanmar

Pence calls for release of convicted Reuters journalists in Myanmar
© Greg Nash

Vice President Pence on Tuesday called for the release of two Reuters journalists who were sentenced this week to seven years in jail in Myanmar.

Pence is the most senior U.S. official to come out in support of the journalists, who were convicted on Monday of breaking the law by obtaining confidential documents while reporting on the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

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The vice president said he believes the two men, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, should be "commended—not imprisoned" for their reporting. 

"Deeply troubled by the Burmese court ruling sentencing 2 @Reuters journalists to 7 years in jail for doing their job reporting on the atrocities being committed on the Rohingya people," Pence tweeted Tuesday.

"Wa Lone & Kyaw Soe Oo shd be commended—not imprisoned—for their work exposing human rights violations & mass killings. Freedom of religion & freedom of the press are essential to a strong democracy," he added in another tweet. "We call on the Gov’t of Burma to reverse this ruling & release them immediately."

Pence's comments came a day after U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki HaleyNimrata (Nikki) HaleyNikki Haley: New York Times ‘knew the facts’ about curtains and still released story Nikki Haley on Kavanaugh firestorm: 'It turns my stomach' Melania Trump's spokeswoman gets Hatch Act warning for #MAGA tweet MORE also denounced Myanmar's government over the convictions, calling them “another terrible stain” on the country.

“It is clear to all that the Burmese military has committed vast atrocities,” Haley said in a statement posted to Twitter. “In a free country, it is the duty of a responsible press to keep people informed and hold leaders accountable.”

Haley told reporters on Tuesday that the United Nations is going to be more vocal in calling for the journalists' release, according to Reuters.

Reuters Editor-in-Chief Stephen Adler said in a statement that the news service is weighing its options following the convictions and may turn to international groups for help.

The journalists had been working to uncover human rights abuses being committed against Rohingya Muslims. They were arrested as part of a sting operation set up by Myanmar police, Reuters reported.