SYDNEY (AFP): The wife of Australian economist Sean Turnell (pic) pleaded for his release Thursday (Sept 29), saying his jailing in Myanmar is "heartbreaking" for his whole family.
Ha Vu urged Myanmar to relent after Turnell was sentenced to three years imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act.
Australia's government said it rejected the sentence and demanded his "immediate release".
"It's heartbreaking for me, our daughter, Sean's 85-year-old father and the rest of our family," Ha Vu said in a statement.
"My husband has already been in a Myanmar prison for almost two-thirds of his sentence. Please consider the contributions that he has made to Myanmar, and deport him now," she added.
Detained since Myanmar's coup in February last year, Turnell was previously an adviser to ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi's government.
Ha Vu said Turnell had been one of Myanmar's "greatest supporters" for more than 20 years, working "tirelessly" to strengthen its economy.
Australia's foreign minister, Penny Wong, said Turnell was tried in a closed court with no consular access.
Australia will "advocate strongly" for Turnell until he is returned to his family, Wong said.
Australia has contested the charges during the more than 19 months that Turnell has been "unjustly detained by the Myanmar military regime", she added.
"The Australian government rejects today's court ruling... and calls for his immediate release," she said.