Myanmar releases 3 journalists held for using drone near parliament

Local interpreter Aung Naing Soe center and driver Hla Tin left are welcomed by family members as they were released from Yamethin prison Friday Dec. 29 2017 in Yamethin township on the outskirts of Naypyitaw Myanmar. Two journalists and their

Local interpreter Aung Naing Soe center and driver Hla Tin left are welcomed by family members as they were released from Yamethin prison Friday Dec. 29 2017 in Yamethin township on the outskirts of Naypyitaw Myanmar. Two journalists and their

Police detained the two journalists on assignment for the TRT World TV station and the two Myanmar men on October 27, when they attempted to fly a drone near Myanmar's parliament building.

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.

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.

The TRT crew was released on Friday after additional charges were dropped. He said that they were treated well in prison and also during the interrogation, adding that they admitted they were guilty of Article 10 of the Myanmar Aircraft Act and they would now take caution to that effect.

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Expecting to receive a fine, they confessed to flying the drone but were instead sentenced to two months in jail under Myanmar's aircraft act.

A local photographer said the two foreign nationals left Yamethin prison by vehicle, however, Aung Naing Soe and Hla Tin walked out of the prison compound.

The crew was shooting a documentary in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw.

The group arrest came amid tensions between Buddhist majority Myanmar and mostly Muslim countries like Turkey and Malaysia over Myanmar's treatment of the stateless Rohingya Muslim minority.

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Almost a dozen journalists have been arrested this year under the civilian-led government of de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, earning her administration the wrath of rights groups for appearing to backpedal on press freedom after decades of stifling military rule in Myanmar.

Two local journalists working for the Reuters news agency were remanded in custody for a second 14-day period on Tuesday after being arrested under the colonial-era Official Secrets Act for allegedly possessing documents relating to Myanmar's troubled Rakhine State.

They were released from a prison at Yamethin, near the capital Naypyitaw. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.

Reported by Aung Thein Kha for RFA's Myanmar Service.

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