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

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.

How did they react to #WhatChanged as Arab News celebrates its 43rd anniversary

Arab News, the region leading English-language daily, celebrates its 43rd anniversary. (AN)
Updated 20 April 2018

How did they react to #WhatChanged as Arab News celebrates its 43rd anniversary

  • The changes are all part of a future plan entitled Arab News 2020 to coincide with the paper’s 45th anniversary that year
  • Arab News has opened bureaus in London, Dubai and Pakistan and has hired some of the best industry talent

Arab News — the region leading English-language daily — celebrates its 43rd anniversary with a relaunch, described by Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas as “The biggest shake-up the paper has had throughout its 43-year history.”

The changes are all part of a future plan entitled Arab News 2020 to coincide with the paper’s 45th anniversary that year.

The paper’s metamorphosis coincides neatly with the transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia as the country embraces an ambitious reform program as part of the Vision 2030 which, among other things, is redefining the local media industry.

Arab News, which is owned by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), has opened bureaus in London, Dubai and Pakistan and has hired some of the best industry talent, made significant changes to its workflow structure and rewritten its editorial policy.

Here are the reactions to the change:

I think Arab News readers will not just embrace the changes to the newspaper, they will love them. If there’s one region that can adapt to change rapidly, then it’s the Arab world. The new newspaper is clean, it’s crisp, it’s modern — and those things are essential for a modern newspaper. It’s no longer enough to tell readers what happened yesterday, because this is the 21st century, they already know. They want context, analysis. They don’t just want to know what happened, but why it happened, how it happened, and how it’s going to change their lives and what it means for them — and I think any modern newspaper has to do that.

Ross Anderson

Dubai Bureau Chief

I am very happy about the new launch. I grew up with the Arab News, I used to read the newspaper ever since I was 8 or 9 and if I didn’t, my dad would always come in and ask us about headlines. It really has contributed to my sense of understanding of the world, so for me to see the change happening, the whole world, the universe is changing and when you look at it from that perspective, from a universal one then it’s bound to happen. We change, every day we’re changing skin! I think that the fact that it’s launched the way it did and, honestly, under the leadership of (Editor in Chief) Faisal J. Abbas, I think it’s going to go really high and I’m excited to see where it’s going to go next.

Lina Almaeena

Saudi Shoura Council Member

What we needed to do — after 43 years, with one of the oldest English newspapers in the region — is to give it a modern day look and feel. So what we started is to give it a revamp — from the masthead down to every single page.  And then we looked at the digital side of things as well — we revamped the website and also we looked at social media platforms.

Arkan Aladnani

Head of Operations

Congratulations to a friend and colleague Faisal Abbas, and the entire team on the launch of Arab News’ revamped edition. Change is what gives meaning to life at the break of every dawn.

Mohammed Fahad Al-Harthi

Former Editor in Chief


Arab News is an old, venerable brand with lots of legacy, going back to the 1970s. The redesigned paper is bold, I think it makes a statement. I think it says here we are, we’re modern. Arab News has gone more international, we are no longer just a Saudi newspaper — there are bureaus around the world and that will increase further.

Frank Kane

Business Columnist, Dubai

I think Arab News has a big role in changing the concept of believing in youth, culture and innovation. With the new concept of Arab News, the new Arab News, I can see positive change is coming to the region, positive change coming to the youth, positive energy, lots of building the capabilities of the youth is needed more than ever. The leadership of Arab News is so powerful to give us also a great example of how change can be done.

Mona Al-Marri

Director-General of the Government of Dubai Media Office

I think the reveal (of the new Arab News identity) was done in a very professional manner, I think it was eye-catching, and it expressed everything that Arab News has to say. The new design is lovely, it has to go and continue because with changing times patterns change, you have a new audience so it has to go with the flow. The framework with Arab News was that there’s no drastic change ... people can still recognize that this is the Arab News.

Khaled Almaeena

Former Editor in Chief

A sharp black and white (masthead) makes it all blunt and straight to the point, which is what takes the news to the second level. The brand says a lot, it has an ambitious, modern touch to it.

Maitha Buhumaid

Government of Dubai Media Office

If you read the newspaper 18 months ago, you would not recognize it compared with what it is today. We have built a network of correspondents around the world, we have opened new bureaus. We have employed some of the finest, most experienced journalists on the planet. And we are doing some fantastic stories and scoops and interviews with world leaders, all with an Arab slant, or reflecting on the region in some way. The Middle East is probably the most misunderstood region in the world; a lot of people have preconceptions about the region. Arab News is helping meet demand for real news about the region, and helping to address some of the misunderstandings.

Ben Flanagan

London Bureau Chief

The new Arab News is outstanding.

Tarek Mishkhas

Former Deputy Editor in Chief