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Australian editor accused of drugging woman in Myanmar

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Ross Dunkley was arrested in early February
  • The woman claims she was drugged on two occasions
  • She later withdraws her accusations
  • Myanmar

Yangon, Myanmar (CNN) -- The Australian editor of a Myanmar newspaper was ordered to remain in jail after a court hearing in Yangon Thursday.

Officials revealed at the hearing that Ross Dunkley, the editor of the Myanmar Times, faces charges related to torturing and drugging a woman.

Dunkley was arrested in early February. At the time, authorities said he faced immigration charges.

At the hearing Thursday, authorities added the drug and torture charges stating that Myanmar law dictates that any foreigner who faces criminal charges always faces additional immigration charges.

The woman making the allegations against Dunkley was at the hearing, and said the editor gave her a drug on two occasions that hampered her memory. On the second time, the woman said she jumped out of Dunkley's car to escape.

Dunkley denied all charges and requested to be released on bond, which was denied.

But in a strange twist, the woman told the judge that she wanted to drop her allegations and withdraw the case.

"The woman who had made allegations of physical assault against Mr. Dunkley told the court that she wanted to withdraw her complaint," David Armstrong, chairman of Post Media Ltd. and a friend of Dunkley's who is serving as his spokesman, said in a statement. "She admitted that she made allegations during the hearing that she had not made in her initial police interview."

A judge asked her to consider her request and scheduled another hearing for March 3.

Officials from the Australian Embassy in Myanmar attended the hearing, Armstrong said.

Myanmar Times is one of a few newspapers owned and run by a foreigner in the nation. Dunkley's arrest comes amid a business dispute with the paper's local partner.

"I cannot say for sure that the cause behind Ross' arrest was driven by business dispute because I was not with him in Myanmar," said Armstrong. "But what I can say, all the troubles came to Ross at an odd timing as there was a business negotiation with his local partner going on."