Health Care

Myanmar jails foreign journalists for flying drone

Lau Hon Meng, a Singaporean, and Mok Choy Lin, a Malaysian, were on assignment for Turkish Radio and Television when they were detained October 27 in the capital, Naypyitaw.

Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe arrives for his first appearance in the court after he was detained for attempting to fly a drone near parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw, Myanmar November 10, 2017.

But the judge instead opted for a fresh charge of violating aircraft laws, which carries up to a three month sentence.

Channel Asia News spoke with one of the defense lawyers for the case, Khin Maung Zaw, who said the defendants had plead guilty to the crime in the hopes of having their punishments reduced to just a fine.

The lawyer said he would lodge an appeal to reduce the sentence to a fine.

"We have no idea what is going on and we are not allowed to speak to our family", Reuters reported her as saying. As he was brought to court, interpreter Aung Naing Soe told reporters the four had not been mistreated while in custody, though police had asked about who they had spoken to and trips he made to several of restive Myanmar regions, including Rakhine.

"They were detained by security officials before flying the drone". While there is no specific law on drones, individual authorities have tried to restrict the use of drones on their premises.

"It is also not a strong sentence, as they only got two months imprisonment".

The Committee to Protect Journalists slammed the reporters' arrests as part of an "escalating clampdown on press freedom" in the fledgling democracy.

"Without clear legislation on drone use, Myanmar's legal authorities are making up the rules as they see fit to suppress the news media".

Mok, the Malaysian journalist, was able to brief reporters before the hearing began on Friday.

The incident comes amid tensions between Turkey and Myanmar over its treatment of Rohingya Muslims.

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