Myanmar police charge Singaporean, Malaysian reporters over drone use

Myanmar police charge Singaporean, Malaysian reporters over drone use

Reports from media in Myanmar identified the detained journalists as Singaporean Lau Hon Meng and Malaysian Mok Choy Lin. (Photo: NewsWatchJournal/Facebook)

YANGON: 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.

They will be held in custody until their first court hearing on charges that carry up to three years in jail or a fine for the import and export of "restricted or banned goods" without obtaining a license.

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

The foreigners, Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, were arrested on Friday (Oct 27) in Myanmar's capital Nay Pyi Taw while they were on assignment for Turkish state broadcaster TRT.

Myanmar's parliament building in the capital Naypyidaw AFP/Ye Aung Thu

The pair was working with their interpreter and well-known Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe as well as local driver Hla Tin.

On Friday night, about 25 police staged an evening raid on the Yangon house of Aung, seizing his computer memory sticks and searching for documents.

Myanmar state broadcaster MRTV said the ministry of foreign affairs had informed the Singaporean and Malaysian embassies about the matter.

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.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused Myanmar of incubating "Buddhist terror" and carrying out a genocide against the Muslim group.

Several journalists have been arrested in Myanmar this year, fueling fears of an erosion of the 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.

Source: AFP