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Thein Zaw, an Associated Press journalist, has been released from prison in Myanmar.

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Thein Zaw, an Associated Press journalist, has been released from prison in Myanmar.
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Thein Zaw, an Associated Press journalist, has been released from prison in Myanmar.

Thein Zaw, an Associated Press journalist, has been released from prison in Myanmar.

 

Thein Zaw, an Associated Press journalist who was detained last month while covering a rally in Myanmar against the coup, was released on Wednesday.

After his second court hearing after his detention nearly a month ago, Thein Zaw informed the Associated Press and his family by phone that he had been released.

As he drove home, he said the judge in his case read a letter in court saying that all charges against him have been dismissed because he was doing his job when he was arrested.

“I’m looking forward to seeing my family members,” he said, while also expressing concern for the other journalists still detained. “I’m sorry about those of my coworkers who are also incarcerated.”

Thein Zaw was charged with breaking a public order rule, which carries a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

He was one of nine journalists detained during a street protest in Yangon, the country’s largest city, on February 27 and held without bail. Since the coup on February 1, about 40 journalists have been detained or charged.

The Associated Press and a number of press freedom groups have called for Thein Zaw and the other imprisoned journalists to be released.

Ian Phillips, AP vice president for international news, said, “The Associated Press is greatly relieved that AP journalist Thein Zaw has been released from prison in Myanmar.” “Our excitement is tempered by the fact that more journalists are still being held there. We call on Myanmar to free all journalists and encourage them to report freely and safely on the country’s events.”

Thein Zaw was apprehended while photographing armed police charging down a street at anti-coup demonstrators. Despite the fact that he moved to the side of the road to get out of their path, several police officers rushed over and surrounded him, according to video. As he was handcuffed and led away, one placed him in a chokehold.

He had been held at Yangon’s Insein Jail, which has been infamous for decades for housing political prisoners and currently houses hundreds of people arrested for protesting Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government.

Tin Zar Oo, Thein Zaw’s counsel, was only able to see her client for the first time on March 12 at a hearing to extend his pre-trial arrest, and even then, it was only via a video connection that she and one of Thein Zaw’s brothers watched at the Kamayut Township court. His next court appearance was set for Wednesday.

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