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French tourist jailed in Myanmar for flying drone

February 27, 2019

A 27-year-old Frenchman has been sentenced to prison in Myanmar for flying a drone over the country’s parliament. Three journalists were imprisoned two years ago for the same offense.

Image: picture-alliance/CTK/R. Vondrous

Myanmar has sentenced a French tourist to one month in prison with labor for flying a drone over the country’s parliament.

The judge said the court handed Arthur Desclaux a "light sentence" because the 27-year-old had confessed his guilt "with sincerity."

Desclaux violated an import-export law, which banned the use of drones and other “banned goods” without first obtaining a license.

The offence carried a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment.

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Desclaux was arrested earlier this month in Naypyidaw, the country’s capital.

The French embassy, which had been in contact with him since, said the court had taken the man’s good faith into account.

"We take note of the verdict and that his good faith has been recognized by the court," an official told DW.

Under Myanmar's Aircraft Act, it is illegal to fly drones over government buildings in the capital.

Drone-flying is also forbidden over many religious sites, but tourists are not always explicitly warned.

In October 2017, three journalists and their driver were arrested for flying a drone over parliament while making a documentary for Turkish state broadcaster TRT.

They confessed, expecting to receive a fine, but were instead each handed two-month prison sentences.

Naypyidaw was decreed as the capital city by Myanmar's former military dictatorship in 2005. Many foreign embassies are still based in the former capital Yangon.

nn,dv/rt (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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