The International Federation of Journalists today called for the immediate release of three Laotian guides, who remain imprisoned in Laos after the liberation of two European journalists and their American guide who had been sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment by a court in Vientiane, a little under two weeks ago.
The Laotian Ambassador to France, Soutsakhone Pathammavong, declared today that both Thierry Falise, a Belgian freelance photographer and reporter, Vincent Reynaud, a French free-lance photographer/cameraman, and Naw Karl Mua, an American of ethnic Hmong origin who was their guide and translator have been released.
Nonetheless, the IFJ condemns the continued imprisonment of two Laotian guides, Thao Moua and Tha Char Yang, as well as a Laotian driver, Pa Phue Khang, all of whom were sentenced to between 12 and 20 years on June 30th, as a result of their associations with Falise and Reynaud.
“The release of these journalists has exposed the unjustified nature of the initial charges and the subsequent ‘show trial’,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. However, in order to close the case definitively, the IFJ is calling for the Laotian authorities to implement parallel standards of jurisprudence across the board and to free the European journalists’ Laotian travel aids.
Falise, Reynaud and Naw Mua who had been arrested on June 4th while reporting on clashes between armed forces and rebels representing the country’s Hmong ethnic minority, left on a flight to Bangkok this morning, and were received at the airport by the French Ambassador Bernard Pottier, his American counterpart Douglas Hartwick and the Belgian Ambassador Pierre Vaesen. The fate of the three imprisoned Laotian’s remains unclear, but the IFJ is saying that they should also be set free.
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The IFJ represents over 500, 000 journalists in more than 100 countries