The pair of Reuters journalists told relatives they were taken into custody almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers by two unknown policemen.
Human rights lawyer Amal Clooney will be representing the two Reuters journalists currently in pre-trial detention in Myanmar, her office said Thursday.
The case of journalists Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, has been debated in court since January with the maximum penalty of 14 years hanging by a thread after the pair was charged for “illegally possessing confidential government documents” per the Officials Secrets Act.
The two journalists were busy investigating the murder of 10 Rohingya Muslim men who were killed in western Myanmar during the army crackdown in August which resulted in a massive migration of almost 700,000 people.
On Wednesday, defense lawyers requested the case be thrown out of court citing insufficient evidence to support charges.
“Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo are being prosecuted simply because they reported the news. I have reviewed the case file and it is clear beyond doubt that the two journalists are innocent and should be released immediately,” Clooney was quoted as saying in a statement released by her office.
Government officials have denied that arrests had any connection to the journalists’ investigation, however, the pair told relatives they were taken into custody almost immediately after being handed some rolled up papers by two unknown policemen.
“The outcome of this case will tell us a lot about Myanmar’s commitment to the rule of law and freedom of speech,” said Clooney, who is married to actor George Clooney.
Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been in custody since their arrest on Dec. 12. The district court in northern Yangon will hear arguments from prosecutors and defense lawyers on the motion to dismiss the case on April 4, Reuters reports.