Myanmar frees BBC reporter from jail after appeal

By Aung Hla Tun YANGON (Reuters) - A journalist from the BBC's Myanmar-language service walked free from prison on Thursday after a court accepted his appeal against a three-month sentence handed down in June for striking a policeman. "I'm in good health and I'm very thankful to those who expressed concerns and worked for my release," the journalist, Nay Myo Lin, told Reuters by telephone. Thein Than Oo, his lawyer, told Reuters the court in Mandalay, the country's second largest city, accepted Nay Myo Lin's appeal and he was freed from prison soon afterwards. Photographs uploaded to the BBC Myanmar-language Facebook page showed a smiling Nay Myo Lin walking out of prison beside his pregnant wife. The journalist was handed a three-month jail sentence with hard labor on June 6 after he was convicted of striking a policeman while covering student protests last year. The scuffle between Nay Myo Lin and the police officer happened after the officer, standing in the middle of a moving motorcade, knocked a man off a motorbike, defense lawyer Thein Than Oo told Reuters. A witness video appeared to show that. The incident happened during a demonstration by a group of students in Myanmar's commercial capital, Yangon, in March last year to protest against an education bill they said would stifle academic freedom. It was broken up by police before reaching its destination, with members of a riot squad with batons charging into the protesters. At the time of his sentencing, Nay Myo Lin said he had no intention of hurting the policeman and had been trying to, "give protection to a citizen who was being treated unjustly in my presence". (Editing by Timothy Mclaughlin, Robert Birsel)