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US State Department Calls on Myanmar to Free Reporters


FILE - In this image released by the Myanmar Ministry of Information and broadcast by Myanmar's MRTV on Dec. 13, 2017, Reuters reporters Wa Lone, left, and Kyaw Soe Oo stand handcuffed in Myanmar.

The U.S. State Department is calling for the release of two Reuters journalists arrested last week in Myanmar.

"We're deeply concerned about their detention," department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in Tuesday's news briefing. "Today, I want to make it clear that we're calling for their immediate release."

On Monday, a spokeswoman for European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini also urged Myanmar to release the reporters "as quickly as possible."

Last week, the U.S. Embassy in Myanmar said in a statement that there had been no word from Wa Lone, 31, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 27, since their December 12 arrests, and authorities have not allowed their families to visit.

The two were working on stories about a military crackdown in Rakhine state, home to the ethnic minority Rohingya. The action has driven an estimated 600,000 Rohingya Muslims into neighboring Bangladesh.

The journalists went missing after being invited to dinner with police on the northern outskirts of the capital, Yangon. Myanmar's Ministry of Information said the reporters "Illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media."

The ministry released a photo of the two men in handcuffs, although it has not officially notified Reuters of their status. A court official in Yangon told Reuters the men could be held for as long as 28 days without being charged.

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