Journalists in Nay Pyi Taw drone case face court on second charge


NAY PYI TAW — Three journalists and a driver arrested for flying a drone near the Union parliament building in Nay Pyi Taw last month have appeared in court for a second time, following an earlier summary conviction last week.

Ms Mok Choy Lin of Malaysia, Mr Lau Hon Meng from Singapore, local journalist Ko Aung Naing Soe and driver U Hla Tin were arrested in the capital on October 26 while on assignment for Turkish state broadcaster TRT.

They are currently facing charges under the Export and Import Law for operating the drone, which carries a maximum sentence of three years’ imprisonment.

All four have already been handed a summary sentence of two months behind bars under the 1934 Aircraft Act.  


Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

Detained journalist Ko Aung Naing Soe speaks to reporters outside court in Nay Pyi Taw on Thursday. (Victoria Milko | Frontier)

In a hearing that lasted two and half hours, the arresting officer testified he had received communication from immigration officers telling him the drone had not been declared at customs when it was brought into the country.

None of the other eight prosecution witnesses announced by the prosecution showed up for the hearing.

Speaking to reporters outside the court, defence lawyer U Khin Maung Zaw said he would submit a letter to authorities calling for the case to be closed ahead of the next hearing on November 20.

All four defendants have already been handed a summary sentence of two months behind bars under the 1934 Aircraft Act.  

The defendants had pleaded guilty because they expected to be fined and were shocked when they received jail sentences, Khin Maung Zaw said.

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Support our independent journalism and get exclusive behind-the-scenes content and analysis

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters.

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar