The Irrawaddy

Additional charges dropped against Turkish TV crew

Naypyitaw—Police have withdrawn additional charges against the journalists who were sentenced to two months in prison for attempting to fly a drone near Myanmar’s Parliament in October.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT World producer Mok Choy Lin, from Malaysia, freelance camera operator Lau Hon Meng, from Singapore, and two Myanmar citizens — their interpreter Ko Aung Naing Soe and driver U Hla Tin — were detained by the police on Oct. 27 for attempting to fly a drone near Myanmar’s Parliament in the administrative capital of Naypyitaw. The local court in Naypyitaw sentenced the four to two months in prison each on Nov.10 under the 1934 colonial-era Myanmar Aircraft Act.

The four were also charged under the 2012 Export and Import Law for illegally bringing the drone into the country. The two foreign journalists were further charged with violating Section 13 (1) of the 1947 Immigration Act on Nov. 27, after their visas expired while in custody. At Tuesday’s court hearing, these two latter charges were withdrawn by the plaintiffs, police officer Tun Tun Win and immigration Official U Htay Win, which they said was done so that Myanmar could maintain good relations with Malaysia and Singapore and because authorities didn’t find any intent on the part of the accused to harm the country’s security.

The court will hold a final hearing on Dec. 28 to announce the official withdrawal of the charges against the four. Their two-month prison terms for violating the Aircraft Act are due to be served by Jan. 9 but they are expected to be released on Jan. 5 as they were given four days of remission, according to the defendants’ lawyer U Khin Maung Zaw.

Translated from the Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.