Myanmar pardons hundreds of prisoners

Myanmar today pardoned hundreds of prisoners  under an amnesty criticised by pro-democracy activists as a cynical
ploy to curry favour before a landmark visit by US President Barack Obama. 

Officials said 452 prisoners would walk free, but most or all of them 
appeared to be ordinary criminals. 

Rights groups said they were not aware of the release of any of the scores of dissidents still in jail. 

The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a Thailand-based campaign group, described the pardon as "the worst amnesty to date. 

Myanmar  has already freed hundreds of political prisoners, incarcerated by the former junta, as part of reforms.