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Myanmar Crisis

Japanese journalist covering Myanmar protests temporarily detained

Freelancer Yuki Kitazumi released after spending several hours in police station

Anti-coup protesters rally in Yangon on Feb. 26. (Photo by Yan Naing Aung)

BANGKOK -- A Japanese freelance journalist covering Myanmar's anti-coup protests was detained by police for several hours in Yangon on Friday.

Yuki Kitazumi was taken into custody while reporting on street demonstrations in the country's largest city. Although he was released the same day, this marks the first known detention of a foreign reporter since the military seized power on Feb. 1.

A colleague told Nikkei that Kitazumi had sent a text message at around 11:30 a.m. local time, saying that he had been detained. He also sent a text message to a Nikkei reporter, saying: "I am at a police station. I am not hurt."

Later, at about 4:30 p.m., he told a Nikkei reporter via messaging app that he was free.

"While I was covering the protests, the police suddenly started to chase the people on the streets. I tried to run away, but they caught me," he told Nikkei during a phone call. "I saw seven other people detained in the same police vehicle when we were transferred to a local police station."

Kitazumi worked for Nikkei as a reporter from 2001 to 2012. He now resides in Yangon, where he makes documentaries and runs a media production company, Yangon Henshu Production. The company, established in 2018, provides news articles and media-related services, as well as public relations consulting services, according to its website.

As a expert with the Japan International Cooperation Agency, Kitazumi has also acted as a public relations adviser for the Thilawa Special Economic Zone -- an economic development project on the outskirts of Yangon.

Although he appears to have been the first international journalist to have been detained by Myanmar's junta, he is the second foreign national. Australian academic Sean Turnell, an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi on economic reforms, was detained in the early days after the military takeover.

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