Pope urges press freedom, cites case of jailed Reuters reporters
The pope visited Myanmar last November and later, in neighbouring Bangladesh, had an emotional meeting with Rohingya refugees who had fled there from Rakhine state.
Reporters Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, and Wa Lone, 32, have been held since December in what has become a landmark press freedom case, charged under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. The alleged offences carry a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.
At the time of their arrest, the pair had been working on an investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Myanmar government spokesman Zay Htay, asked to comment on the pope's remarks, said on Wednesday that the judiciary was independent, as in other democratic countries.
"The government cannot interfere in the court proceedings."
Pope Francis said the situation surrounding the detention of the two Reuters reporters should be clarified.
"I would like that the reason why they are in prison be clarified. If they have committed a crime or not. But it is important that the situation be clarified," he said.
"In some places, dictatorial governments under the guise of democracy continue to do these things," he said.
"But right now the press can be very easily manipulated, very easily," he added. "In some countries maybe things are going well, but there are many ways to silence the media."
(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)