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French national faces Myanmar court on drone flying charge

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — A French national appeared in court Friday in Myanmar after being arrested two weeks ago for allegedly flying a drone close to the country's vast parliament complex. Arthur Desclaux faces a charge under the Illegal Export-Import Act and could be jailed for up to three years if convicted. He was driven in the back of a police vehicle past waiting media into the court compound to be officially informed of the charge.

A French consular official told reporters outside the court that Desclaux said he had been well-treated, but expressed disappointment that the 27-year-old was still kept in custody. "He didn't have any bad intention to do this and I wish the judge will believe that he was doing it unintentionally and he would be released as soon as possible," said Frederic Inza. "We regret he is still in prison. We were hoping for a rapid solution."

The court in the capital Naypyitaw set its next hearing for Feb. 27, when witness testimony is expected to begin. In 2017, a film crew working for Turkish state television was jailed for two months for trying to fly a drone over the parliament in Naypyitaw. A Singaporean and a Malaysian working for the broadcaster TRT, along with two Myanmar assistants, had been convicted under a 1934 law covering aircraft. Threatened prosecution under the export-import law was dropped.

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