YANGON – Two Myanmar photojournalists, working on assignment for Germany’s GEO magazine, have been detained since Sept. 7 by authorities in Bangladesh on suspicion of espionage, according to a statement by GEO on Friday.
The statement said the two journalists—Minzayar Oo and Hkun Lat—had reached Cox’s Bazar, on the border, in order to report on the situation faced by 400,000 self-identifying Rohingya refugees fleeing Myanmar government security forces’ “counter-terrorism” operations against the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army in late August.
“We, the editorial board of GEO magazine and the staff and photographers at Panos Pictures, are deeply concerned about the continued detention of Minzayar Oo and Hkun Lat and the fact that they have been denied bail,” read GEO’s statement.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that, according to the two detainees’ lawyer, both are being charged with “false impersonation” and providing “false information,” after it was alleged that they had used incorrect visas to enter Bangladesh and carry out work as journalists.
AFP also quoted Cox’s Bazar police chief Ranjit Kumar Barua, who said the two suspects were also “primarily accused of espionage,” but did not elaborate on why.
The Irrawaddy phoned Myanmar President Office’s spokesperson U Zaw Htay on Friday to discuss the incident, but he was not available to provide a comment.