Myanmar says it will drop charges against journalists

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Freelance journalist Aung Naing Soe (right) arrives in a prison van for a court hearing

Police in Myanmar say they will drop charges against two journalists and their interpreter and driver, who were jailed after filming with a drone.

The four were working for Turkish broadcaster TRT when they filmed near parliament in the capital Naypyitaw.

They are currently serving two-month sentences for violating an aircraft law, with further charges pending.

But a police lieutenant appeared in a Naypyitaw courtroom on Tuesday to request the charges be dropped.

Addressing the court alongside an immigration officer, Tun Tun Win said the four had not intended to endanger national security.

Cameraman Lau Hon Meng from Singapore, reporter Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, their interpreter, journalist Aung Naing Soe, and driver Hla Tin, both from Myanmar, were detained on 27 October.

Image source, EPA
Image caption,
Reporter Mok Choy Lin was one of two journalists from Turkish broadcaster TRT who were detained

As well as violating the aircraft law, all four faced further charges for importing the drone and the two foreign nationals faced immigration charges.

Tun Tun Win also told the court the decision was intended "to forward the relationship between countries", referring to Singapore and Malaysia.

A government prosecutor is expected to formally drop the charges on Thursday, Reuters news agency reports.

The four may then be released early from their sentences, which are due to end on 9 January.

The case raised concerns over deteriorating press freedom in Myanmar under civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who came to power in 2016.

A fortnight ago two local journalists working for Reuters were detained, reportedly accused of possessing classified documents.

Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo have been cut off from access to their families and lawyers and could face 14 years if convicted.