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Myanmar Court Hands Frenchman One Month in Prison For Flying Drone Over Parliament

By Reuters 28 February 2019

YANGON — A Myanmar court has sentenced a French national to one month in prison for violating an import-export law by bringing a drone into the country and flying it above Parliament, France’s embassy said on Wednesday.

Police arrested Arthur Desclaux, 27, on Feb. 7 with an unmanned aerial vehicle in Naypyitaw — Myanmar’s purpose-built capital known for its oversized official buildings and wide, empty roads.

A judge in the capital convicted Desclaux under Myanmar’s law on imports and exports and handed him a one-month sentence on Wednesday afternoon, a French embassy official said.

The law allows for penalties of up to three years in prison for breaches on import rules.

“We understand that the judge has taken into account his good faith,” the embassy official said, explaining that Desclaux said he was not aware that importing or flying the drone was prohibited in Myanmar.

Myanmar officials say certain areas, such as Parliament, are off-limits to drone flying, but tourists are not explicitly warned about the restrictions.

In 2017, two foreign journalists for Turkish state TV station TRT World and their interpreter spent two months in a Myanmar jail for attempting to fly a drone near the legislature. The three pleaded guilty to breaching the colonial-era Aircraft Act.

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