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Myanmar Police Detain 2 Journalists for Flying Drone Over Parliament Grounds

FILE - Members of parliament arrive at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.
FILE - Members of parliament arrive at Union Parliament in Naypyitaw, Myanmar.

Myanmar police said Saturday they have detained two foreign journalists who are employed by Turkish state media for flying a drone over parliament grounds in the capital of Nay Pyi Taw.

Their detention comes amid heightened tension between Myanmar and Turkey, which has criticized the Southeast Asian country for its treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan accused Myanmar in September of committing genocide against the Rohingya, a charge Myanmar denies.

The journalists, who work for Turkey's state broadcaster TRT, have been identified as Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia. The pair, who were arrested Friday, was working with noted Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe. Local media reports said authorities searched Aung Naing Soe's home in Yangon Friday night.

Police said they expected to get court permission to detain the two journalists for up to 15 days while they prepare to charge them for bringing the drone into the country without permission, a violation that could result in a maximum three-year jail sentence.

Since August 25, more than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled the majority-Buddhist Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh, when Myanmar's security forces began targeting the Rohingya in response to Rohingya militant attacks on police stations.

Several other journalists have been arrested in Myanmar this year, triggering warnings from rights groups saying progress made toward press freedom since the end of military rule risks being reversed on the watch of national leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

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