The White House on Tuesday, May 7 welcomed the release of two Reuters journalists Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo after they were pardoned by the civilian government of Myanmar.
"Jailed for over 500 days since December 2017 for reporting on atrocities against the Rohingya, we are delighted they will be reunited with their families, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.
The two journalists from the London-based news agency won international acclaim for their reporting on the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar.
Their December 2017 arrests made them an international cause celebre and a sign of Myanmar's deteriorating press freedoms under Nobel laureate and civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
Sanders hoped other jailed journalists in Myanmar would also be freed.
"A free press, freedom of religion, and the rule of law are fundamental principles for any democracy. The United States will continue promoting a stable, prosperous, and democratic transition in Burma," Sanders said.
Welcoming their release Senator Marco Rubio said the two journalists were unjustly jailed for their work -- reporting the alleged atrocities against the Rohingya.
"Their cases serve as a reminder of the critical role a free press plays in bringing accountability and transparency to governments, and we must do all we can to protect and advance those principles," Rubio said.
Non-profit Reporters Without Borders (RSF) also welcomed the release.
"As well as the release of two individuals who should never have been in prison Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo this is a fundamental victory for press freedom and for the RSF, which had campaigned constantly since their arrest," said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF's Asia-Pacific desk.
"Their case is emblematic of investigative journalism's importance for the functioning of democracies. We hail the role played by all those civil society actors who, both in Myanmar and internationally, never forgot the fate of these two journalists and kept fighting for them until this successful outcome," he said.