Myanmar police charge Singaporean and Malaysian reporters over drone use
Myanmar police have charged two foreign journalists working for Turkish state media – along with two Burmese locals – for allegedly breaching import laws after they flew a drone over the country’s parliament.
The men will be held in custody until their first court hearing on charges that carry up to three years in prison or a fine for the import and export of “restricted or banned goods” without obtaining a licence.
“We have opened a case against all four – two foreigners and two Burmese. They will be held on remand until November 10,” said deputy police colonel Kyaw Moe.
The foreigners, Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, were arrested on Friday in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw while they were on assignment for Turkish state broadcaster Turkish Radio and Television.
The foreigners were working with well-known Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe, who was working as an interpreter, and a local driver Hla Tin. Neither of the locals has been allowed to see their family since the arrest, one of the family members said.
The Myanmar ministry of information said in a statement on Saturday that the government has told the Singaporean and Malaysian embassies about their citizens’ detention.
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.