Two Myanmar journalists, who were arrested from Cox's Bazar, could face maximum five years of imprisonment based on the charges brought against them.
The Myanmar journalists were picked up more than a week ago while covering the Rohingya crisis for a German magazine Geo on suspicion of espionage.
The photo journalists were charged with “false impersonation” and providing “false information” under Sections 419 and 177 of the Penal Code and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946.
Section 177 stipulates that false information charges shall be punished with simple imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with a fine which may extend to Tk1,000, or with both.
The false impersonation charge under Section 419 can be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
On the other hand, the Foreigners Act, 1946 stipulates that the violation of the act can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to a fine.
Cox’s Bazar police station officer-in-charge (OC) Ranjit Kumar Barua said the pair were also “primarily accused of espionage.”
“They were collecting information on the Rohingya for Myanmar,” he said.
An award-winning Bangladeshi photographer who was detained with the duo was later freed.
Jyotirmoy Barua, lawyer of the two journalists, said: “The journalists arrived in Cox's Bazar from Myanmar's Yangon with tourist visa.”
He said authorities of German magazine Geo informed him that the duo was taken to Dhaka for interrogation prior being produced before the court.
However, police opposed the bail plea saying the journalists were spies and had hi-tech devices which can be used to send information and photographs to Myanmar every second.
“There is no prove that the journalists were involved in espionage and it is a common thing for journalists to visit a country on a tourist visa while covering an event,” the lawyer said.
Scores of foreign journalists have poured into Bangladesh to cover the Rohingya exodus.
The UN has accused Buddhist-dominated Myanmar of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the stateless group, who say the military has launched a brutal crackdown in Rakhine.
Minzayar Oo and Hkun Lat arrived in Cox’s Bazar in early September on assignment for Hamburg-based magazine Geo to cover the refugee crisis, which has strained relations between Muslim-majority Bangladesh and Myanmar.
Their arrest was only announced on Wednesday and a court on Thursday rejected a bail plea, Jyotirmoy Barua told reporters.