Friday, 19 July 2019
Latest news
Main » Myanmar says it will drop charges against journalists

Myanmar says it will drop charges against journalists

01 January 2018

Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe, who was interpreting for them, and their driver Hla Tin were also jailed.

Myanmar authorities on Friday released two foreign journalists, their interpreter, and their driver who were detained in late October for illegally flying a drone over the parliament building in the country's capital Naypyidaw.

A court last month sentenced them to two months in prison under the Anti-Aircraft Act.

He added that the two foreign journalists were being taken directly to Yangon worldwide airport for flights out of the country, while the two Myanmar nationals have already been reunited with their families.

"We released Aung Naing Soe and the crew at 7:20 am today because immigration and police have dropped the charges", said Aung Myo Chun, chief of Yamethin prison.

They were sentenced on November 10 to two months in Yamethin Prison in Mandalay region, around 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of the capital, for violating Myanmar's colonial-era Aircraft Act and were scheduled for release on January 5.

Authorities dropped the more serious charges of importing a drone without permission and immigration violations against the foreigners after concluding they did not intent to endanger national security, their lawyer Khin Maung Zaw said.

Ko Aung Naing Soe, the local interpreter, said that the four would like to thank the officials for withdrawing the case. "We didn't know that we would be released in the morning until last night".

Cheers and shouts of joy erupted as Singaporean cameraman Lau Hon Meng walked out of the Changi Airport Terminal 2 transit area.

Tearful hugs and embraces were exchanged as Lau was welcomed home by his wife, his son who just turned one on Thursday, and friends - just in time for the new year. Mok was met by a small group of acquaintances and quickly left the airport.

The detention of the four had raised concerns over press freedom in Myanmar.

Muslim-majority Turkey has been a vocal critic of Myanmar's treatment of the Rohingya, with President Tayyip Erdogan months earlier accusing the country of genocide.

Several have been released but two Reuters journalists remain in custody and are facing up to 14 years in prison under the draconian colonial-era Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing classified documents.

Myanmar says it will drop charges against journalists