World Bulletin / News Desk
Two journalists for TRT World -- Malaysian Mok Choy Lin and Singaporean Lau Hon Meng -- appeared in court in the capital Nay Pyi Taw alongside local freelance journalist Aung Naing Soe and driver Hla Tin.
They each face a charge of possessing an unlicensed drone under Myanmar’s importation law, police chief Sann Aung said.
It was their first court appearance since they were arrested on Oct. 27 as they worked around the Myanmar parliament in Nay Pyi Taw.
Aung Naing Soe’s mother Daw Thandar said she had been unable to visit her son in prison.
“The charge is ridiculous,” she said. “I am aware that none of the drones in our country are licensed. My son and the driver should be freed at least as they are not the drone owners.”
Aung Naing Soe’s home in Yangon was raided by police after his arrest and computer equipment was confiscated. TRT said he was denied access to his family and lawyers.
The defendants face up to three years in prison or a fine if convicted.
In a statement released four days after the arrests, TRT World, the English language service of Turkey’s public broadcaster, said Myanmar's Information Ministry had been previously informed about the crew’s filming plans.
“Our crew wanted to film the parliament building in the capital with a drone, after conducting an interview with a member of parliament,” the statement said.
“They were detained by security officials before flying the drone.”
The two TRT staff arrived in Yangon on Oct. 21 on journalist visas, TRT added, and used the drone at various locations before their arrest.