Myanmar Frees 102 Prisoners, Including Prisoners of Conscience
Myanmar's military-backed government has released 102 prisoners, including many jailed on political charges, in a move that comes just before it is set to hand over power to a pro-democracy opposition party.
The prisoners were freed Friday from Insein prison near Yangon, according to a presidential spokesman. At least 20 of the freed detainees were prisoners of conscience while others were common criminals, officials said.
Among those freed was 32-year-old New Zealand citizen Philip Blackwood, who was sentenced last year to two and a half years in prison for using an image of Buddha in a flyer that a judge said insulted Buddhism.
Under the leadership of reformist President Thein Sein, Myanmar's government has released more than 1,300 political prisoners in recent years, even while continuing to throw activists and dissidents behind bars.
At least 537 people remain jailed on political charges, according to the Assistant Association for Political Prisoners.
NKorea Detains US Student for 'Anti-State Crimes'
North Korea says it has detained a U.S. student on suspicion of carrying out an unspecified "hostile act against the state."
The Korean Central News Agency says the student, identified as Otto Frederick Warmbier from the University of Virginia, entered North Korea as a tourist with the aim "to destroy the country's unity."
KCNA did not lay out the student's alleged crimes, but said his acts were "tolerated and manipulated by the U.S. government." It did not elaborate, but said an investigation was under way.
According to his LinkedIn page, Warmbier is an undergraduate student at the University of Virginia where he is studying economics and global sustainability.
He was arrested on January 2 while on a tour of North Korea arranged by Young Pioneer Tours, according to the Reuters news agency. The tour company said it was doing "all we can" to secure Warmbier's release.
Reuters also quoted an official at the U.S. embassy in Seoul as saying Washington was aware of the reports of the arrest.