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Myanmar court sentences Frenchman to jail for flying drone

NAYPYITAW, Myanmar (AP) — A court in Myanmar on Wednesday sentenced a French tourist to one month in prison with hard labor, but he is expected to be released in about a week because of time he served while awaiting trial.

Arthur Desclaux was arrested on Feb. 7 for flying a drone close to the capital's parliament complex, and for bringing the device into the country. He was convicted under the Illegal Export-Import Act, which has a maximum penalty of three years' imprisonment.

French consular official Frederic Inza, who attended the trial, said Desclaux, 27, admitted his guilt but said he was unaware of the restriction. "We're satisfied that his good faith and the fact that he imported this drone without having the intention of breaking the law was taken into account by the court," Inza said. "That's important."

Inza said he expects Desclaux to be released March 8. "That said, one month in prison is nevertheless a lot for a simple tourist," he said. 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 broadcaster TRT, along with two Myanmar assistants, were convicted under a 1934 law covering aircraft. Threatened prosecution under the export-import law was dropped.

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