Myanmar charges Turkish state TV journalists for flying drone near parliament | News | DW | 28.10.2017
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Myanmar charges Turkish state TV journalists for flying drone near parliament

Myanmar police have charged the Singaporean and Malaysian journalists, their interpreter and their driver in the capital, Naypyitaw. The move comes amid tensions with Ankara over the Rohingya crisis.

Myanmar police have charged two journalists working for Turkish state media, their local interpreter and their driver for illegally bringing a drone into the country.

The police booked the two journalists — Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia — under Section 8 of the Export and Import Law, which carries a jail term of up to three years for the import and export of "restricted or banned goods" without obtaining a license.

Turkish broadcaster TRT said on its website that it "is in discussions with Myanmar authorities to secure their release. Both journalists had valid visas."

The journalists, their local interpreter, Aung Naing Soe, and their driver, Hla Tin, have been in custody since Friday for flying a drone near the parliament.

Authorities also searched the Yangon residence of Naing Soe, a well-known Myanmar journalist, on Friday night, according to local media.

Myanmar-Turkey tensions

The incident comes amid tensions between Myanmar and Turkey over military excesses against the Rohingya minority in the majority-Buddhist country. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said Myanmar was carrying out "genocide" against Rohingya Muslims.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the past two months to escape military and civilian reprisals in Myanmar that the United Nations has described as "ethnic cleansing."

Read moreRohingya people in Myanmar: What you need to know

Myanmar police said a trial would begin at the end of a 15-day remand.

"We have opened a case against all four — two foreigners and two Burmese. They will be held on remand until November 10," deputy police colonel Kyaw Moe said.

Myanmar authorities have arrested several journalists this year, stoking fears that press freedoms, which were slowly improving after the end of junta rule in 2011, may well again be in danger.

ap/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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