Thein Zaw, a journalist for The Associated Press who was arrested last month while covering a protest against the coup in Myanmar, told his family he has been informed he is being released from detention on Wednesday.
He has not yet left custody but was expected to be released soon. There was no official confirmation of his release. He had been charged with violating a public order law that carries a penalty of up to three years’ imprisonment.
Thein Zaw was one of nine media workers taken into custody during the February 27 street protest in Yangon, the country’s largest city, and had been held without bail. About 40 journalists have been detained or charged since the February 1 coup.
Thein Zaw was arrested as he was photographing police, some of them armed, charging down a street at anti-coup protesters. A video shows that although he stepped to the side of the street to get out of their way, several police rushed over and surrounded him. One put him in a chokehold as he was handcuffed and then taken away.
He had been kept at Yangon’s Insein Prison, notorious for decades for holding political prisoners and which currently holds hundreds of people detained for protesting the February 1 coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
Thein Zaw’s lawyer, Tin Zar Oo, was only able to see her client for the first time at a hearing on March 12 to renew his pre-trial detention, and even then it was through a video link that she and one of Thein Zaw’s brothers watched at the Kamayut Township court. His next hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday.
The Associated Press and many press freedom organisations have called for the release of Thein Zaw and the other detained members of the press.