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Myanmar detains Turkish journalists for flying drone over capital

© 2017 AFP

28 October 2017

Two foreign journalists working for Turkish state media have been detained for more than 24 hours in Myanmar for flying a drone over a parliament building in the capital, the government said Saturday.

The incident comes during high tension between Myanmar and Turkey, which has lambasted the Southeast Asian nation for its treatment of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority.

Last month Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Myanmar of incubating "Buddhist terror" and carrying out a genocide against the Muslim group.

The reporters, Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, were arrested on Friday in Myanmar's capital Naypyidaw while they were on assignment for Turkish state broadcaster TRT.

They are "under interrogation for flying a drone over the Hluttaw (parliament) building", said a statement published by Myanmar's Ministry of Information.

The pair was working with well-known Myanmar journalist Aung Naing Soe, whose house in Yangon was searched by authorities on Friday night, according to local media.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since late August, running from burning villages they say were set alight by soldiers and Buddhist mobs.

Several journalists have been arrested in Myanmar this year, fuelling fears of an erosion of the press freedoms which blossomed after the end of junta rule in 2011.

Many have been charged with defamation or arrested for reporting on armed rebel groups.