Agency smuggles pics over Burma border

News agency London Media is working around the Burmese government’s cutting of internet connections by smuggling images across the Thai/Burma border.

The agency has sent a freelance photographer to the border to meet a contact who will hand over a disk of images taken by a Burmese photographer working in Rangoon, now unable to email the images since the authorities cut public internet connections.

Head of London Media Rick Hewlett said: ‘We’re not Reuters or Getty; we don’t have a satellite phone. Our only way of getting those images is to literally get them by hand.

‘People have said they’re willing to bring them out. Obviously they’re putting themselves at great personal risk to do that, and anything we get from those images they’ll be paid – not us.”

London Media was put in contact with the photographer this week after reporters went to the Burmese embassy in London where a protest had broken out, and distributed cards with the agency’s details on.

A card was passed to a woman whose husband is a Burmese photographer still working in the country. She agreed to send the agency a series of hard-hitting photographs, including one published across two pages in The Guardian of an armed soldier firing at the crowd.

Hewlett said: ‘The photographer began wiring a lot of pictures and footage out to us last Thursday. By Saturday we had pictures in almost every national newspaper. On Friday night our footage was the lead item on the 10.30pm ITN News.

‘We had some incredible pictures from this guy we had never even met. He didn’t want his name on the pictures for obvious reasons, so we were lucky that our name went on them, but credit is massively due to him. The photographer was working secretly, so you could see the wire mesh of a window he was shooting through.”

Since internet connections were severed at the end of last week, it has become increasingly difficult for images and videos to reach the outside world.

London Media is liaising with the photographer’s wife, who is still able to contact her husband in Rangoon by telephone, to arrange the pick up. Hewlett said: ‘What they’re doing is incredibly brave: hats off to them. We feel privileged that they have chosen us.”

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