Malaysian and Singaporean journalists sentenced to jail for flying drone over Myanmar’s parliament
Authorities allege the journalists tried to fly a drone over parliament without permission
A court in Myanmar sentenced two foreign journalists to two months in prison on Friday for illegally flying a drone over parliament.
Lau Hon Meng, a Singaporean, and Mok Choy Lin, a Malaysian, were on assignment for Turkish Radio and Television when they were detained on October 27 in the capital, Naypyitaw.
Their local interpreter, Aung Naing Soe, and their driver, Hla Tin, were also sentenced to two months in jail for the incident.
All four face separate charges for allegedly importing the drone. Another hearing is set for November 16.
Authorities allege the journalists tried to fly a drone over parliament without permission. A lawyer for the interpreter and the driver said they should have been freed because they did not own or operate the drone.
A state-run newspaper had previously reported the journalists intended to take photos of parliament buildings and pagodas in Naypyitaw when security guards spotted them.
The detainees had not been allowed to see family members since their arrest last month. When they appeared for the hearing Friday, Aung Naing Soe, who is also a journalist, was able to hug his weeping mother.
The incident comes as tensions surge between Myanmar and Turkey, which has led criticism of the Southeast Asian nation for its treatment of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.
Several journalists have been arrested in Myanmar this year, fuelling fears of an erosion of press freedoms that blossomed after the end of junta rule in 2011.
Many have been charged with defamation or arrested for reporting on armed rebel groups.