Myanmar jails Turkish broadcast journalists for two months

Aung Naing Soe, a Burmese freelance journalist and interpreter, is hugged by his mother during his first court appearance together with three others after being accused for allegedly flying drones illegally over parliament buildings in Naypyitaw. (AP)
Updated 10 November 2017
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Myanmar jails Turkish broadcast journalists for two months

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar: A Myanmar court jailed two journalists on assignment for Turkey’s state broadcaster, along with their interpreter and driver, for two months on Friday for violating an aircraft law by filming with a drone.
Cameraman Lau Hon Meng from Singapore and reporter Mok Choy Lin from Malaysia, were detained on October 27 along with their Myanmar interpreter, Aung Naing Soe, and driver, Hla Tin.
The four had been working on a documentary for TRT World, the English-language subsidiary of the Turkish Radio and Television Corporation, when they were detained for attempting to fly a drone near parliament in the capital, Naypyitaw.
While none of the four detained is a Turkish national, the case has further strained diplomatic ties in the wake of President Tayyip Erdogan accusing Myanmar’s military of carrying out a “genocide” against the Buddhist-majority country’s Rohingya Muslim minority.
Police initially began investigations into whether they had violated an import-export rule that carries a penalty of up to three years in jail, but the judge in the case opted to introduce a fresh charge of contravening the 1934 Burma Aircraft Act, which carries a maximum sentence of three months.
Both the cameraman and reporter pleaded guilty to the lesser charge, and the judge sentenced all four to two months, according to a Reuters reporter at the hearing.
A fresh hearing will be held on November 16 to determine whether charges will be laid for violating the import-export rules.
“The detainees admitted that they committed the crime hoping they would only be fined, so it shocked us when the judge sentenced them to two months,” said defense lawyer Khin Maung Zaw.
The lawyer said he would appeal for a reduction in the sentence to a fine.
Before proceedings began on Friday, Mok told reporters in the court that they were sorry for any disrespect of the Myanmar’s laws, but complained that the legal process had lacked transparency.
“We have no idea what is going on and we are not allowed to speak to our family,” she said.
“And the rules and procedures are not explained to us. We were asked to sign statements that are completely in Burmese that we cannot understand.”
Interpreter Aung Naing Soe told reporters as he was brought to court the four had not been mistreated while in custody, though police had asked about who they had spoken to and about the trips he had made to several of Myanmar’s restive regions, including Rakhine.
Myanmar says the military counter-insurgency clearance operation launched in August was provoked by Rohingya militant attacks on security posts in Rakhine State, and has denied both Erdogan’s accusation and a top UN official’s description of the operation as a “classic case of ethnic cleansing.”
More than 600,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh since the military operation began.


Bloomberg, SRMG unveil branding for Arabic news service

Updated 17 September 2018
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Bloomberg, SRMG unveil branding for Arabic news service

  • The UAE-headquartered business platform will include a 24-hour television and radio network
  • Bloomberg Asharq will provide analysis on the companies, markets, economies, and social and political developments shaping the Middle East.

DUBAI: The Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG) and Bloomberg revealed on Sunday the branding for a multi-platform Arabic-language business and financial news service, which will be headquartered in the UAE.

The platform has been renamed Bloomberg Asharq, the two parties said in a statement. It follows an agreement signed in September 2017 to launch a 24-hour television and radio network and digital platform, Bloomberg Businessweek magazine in Arabic and a conference and live events series. 

The platform was previously known as Bloomberg Al Arabiya.

The Bloomberg Asharq brand identity was unveiled by Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg LP, and Dr. Ghassan Al-Shibl, chairman of SRMG, during a meeting in Dubai. 

Bloomberg Asharq will be headquartered in the UAE, with the main operation based in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC). 

It will also have a “major presence” in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh and Cairo, with studios in each city, along with a presence and coverage from across key regional and global capitals, according to the statement. 

The Bloomberg Asharq team will be managed by SRMG, which also runs publications including the Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat, Arab News, Aleqtisadiah and others.

It will be supported by Bloomberg’s extensive financial and economic content and market data, as well as news from its 2,700 journalists and analysts globally.

The platforms will provide analysis on the companies, markets, economies, and social and political developments shaping the Middle East. 

“With headquarters in the UAE, and a presence in Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Cairo and many other regional capitals, Bloomberg Asharq will deliver coverage from all the major business and financial centers in the Middle East,” said Dr. Ghassan Al-Shibl, chairman of SRMG.

“This partnership will elevate news in the region to new levels, and will allow us to provide Arabic-speaking audiences in the region and beyond with the most up-to-date and relevant news as they make key investment decisions, and as the region continues its economic diversification. We are proud to use ‘Asharq’ (orient) in the name of this platform, to reflect the interest in the rapidly growing region.”

Justin B. Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media Group, added: “This is an exciting new development as we move forward in our partnership with SRMG, as this multi-platform agreement is the most ambitious of its kind.

“It is partnerships like these that allow us to strengthen our presence in key growth markets, and this expansion across the Middle East is the latest development as part of our strategy to invent our way forward to become the most modern global media company.”