Department Press Briefing – September 13, 2018

Heather Nauert
Department Press Briefing
Washington, DC
September 13, 2018

The situation with the two Reuters reporters, we’ve consistently raised that issue with the Government of Burma over the past year or so since they had been – since they had been detained.

Something that we don’t talk a lot about, however, is the fact that our embassy has remained very involved in monitoring the case of both of those reporters, in appearing at their court cases and so forth, and offering any support that we can certainly provide.

We are certainly aware of Aung San Suu Kyi’s comments about the reporters.  We are deeply disappointed by the verdict that convicted the journalists Wa Lone and also Kyaw Soe Oo.  We will continue to advocate at all levels of the U.S. Government for their immediate and their unconditional release.  That verdict calls into question press freedom in Burma.

When I was there, I had the opportunity to have a roundtable discussion with a surprising number of journalists who had discussed with me the impact of government officials putting pressure on them to not report certain things and to report other things.  We continue to call upon the Government of Burma to protect the freedom of expression, which is an essential pillar of democracy.

The fact that those journalists were convicted despite testimony by police that they were ordered to frame those two reporters – that, in our view, raises serious concerns about the judicial independence and the fair trial guarantees that they are supposed to have in that country.  We believe it harms public confidence in the justice system and the rule of law in Burma.  We continue to urge the Government of Burma to take action immediately to correct this injustice… We will continue to raise that – their cases at the highest level of that government.  We’ve done that consistently within this administration, including the Vice President, who has spoken out about this issue as well.