Aung Naing Soe, a Myanmar freelance journalist, was arrested on October 27 while attempting to fly a drone near Myanmar’s parliament building in the capital, Naypyidaw. He was serving as an interpreter while on assignment for TRT World, the English language subsidiary of the state-run Turkish Radio and Television Corporation.
He was detained along with Mok Choy Lin, a TRT World broadcast reporter, Lau Hon Meng, a TRT World camera operator, and Hla Tin, a local driver. Authorities initially charged the group with violating Section 8 of Myanmar’s Import Export Law, which does not specifically refer to drones, and carries a penalty of up to three years in jail, according to news reports.
On November 10, the Zabuthiri Township Court in Naypyidaw introduced a new charge under the 1934 Burman Aircraft Act and sentenced each of the group to two months in prison in a one-day trial for filming with a drone without official permission. The journalists pleaded guilty to the lesser charge in hopes of more lenient treatment, their defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told reporters.
On the day of the group’s detention, Myanmar authorities raided the home of Aung Naing Soe, who is also a local news photographer, where they searched documents and confiscated his computer memory sticks, reports said.
Aung Naing Soe was being held at a prison in Pyinmana town near the capital Naypyidaw along with driver Hla Tin, according to a Democratic Voice of Burma report. Reports quoting his mother, Daw Thandar, said Aung Naing Soe was not allowed family prison visits.