Myanmar court jails Suu Kyi, Australian economist for 3 years - source


FILE PHOTO: Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi attends the joint news conference of the Japan-Mekong Summit Meeting at the Akasaka Palace State Guest House in Tokyo, Japan October 9, 2018. Franck Robichon/Pool via Reuters

(Reuters) - A court in military-ruled Myanmar on Thursday jailed deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her former economic adviser, Australian Sean Turnell, for three years for violating a secrets law, a source familiar with the proceedings said.

Turnell was also found guilty of violating an immigration law, and was ordered to concurrently serve another three-year sentence, according to a second source and media. A former British envoy, an American journalist, and a Japanese filmmaker have also faced charges under the same law.

Both Suu Kyi and Turnell had pleaded not guilty to the charges they faced, which carry a maximum sentence of 14 years.

"Three years each, no hard labour," said the source, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Suu Kyi, Turnell, and several members of her economic team are among thousands arrested since the military overthrew her elected government in a coup early last year, including politicians, lawmakers, bureaucrats, students and journalists.

Nobel laureate Suu Kyi has already been sentenced to at least 23 years in prison in separate cases, mostly related to corruption charges. She denies all accusations against her.

Opponents of the military say the charges against Suu Kyi are aimed at blocking her from ever getting involved in politics again and challenging the military's grip on power.

A junta spokesperson did not answer calls seeking comment on Thursday. The junta insists Myanmar's courts are independent and those arrested are receiving due process.

Turnell, who is also a professor of economics at Macquarie University in Australia, has been in detention since a few days after the coup.

His wife, Ha Vu, who is based in Australia, said she and her family were "heartbroken" at the verdict and called for him to be deported.

"Sean has been one of Myanmar's greatest supporters for over 20 years and has worked tirelessly to strengthen Myanmar's economy. Please consider the contributions ... and deport him now," she said in a Facebook post.

Australia called for Turnell's release.

"The Australian government has consistently rejected the charges against Professor Turnell. (It) rejects today's court ruling ... and calls for his immediate release," Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in a statement.

Australian consular officials tasked with assisting Turnell were denied access to the court, Wong said.

Thursday's sentencing took place in a closed court in the capital, Naypyitaw. The defendants' exact offence under the official secrets act remains unclear, though a source previously said Turnell's offence "relates to an allegation that he had government documents".

An analyst for the International Crisis Group think tank, Richard Horsey, called the proceedings "a show trial".

"For Sean the hope now must be that - having already been in detention for almost 20 months - he will be released soon from this terrible ordeal and reunited with his family," he said.

(Reporting by Reuters Staff; Writing by Kanupriya Kapoor; Editing by Ed Davies, Robert Birsel and Kim Coghill)

Article type: free
User access status:
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In World

Amazon workers stole nearly US$10mil from company to buy real estate, luxury cars, US cops say
New Zealand announces review of its handling of COVID-19 pandemic
Thousands on alert in Indonesia's Java after Mt. Semeru eruption
Ukraine, Baltics rebuke Macron for suggesting 'security guarantees' for Russia
'We are not your enemy', say South Korean truckers striking for minimum wage protections
G7 begins to press Russia on Ukraine with oil price cap
England trio 'buzzing' after beating Senegal 3-0
England forward Sterling flies home as his family being robbed
England coach Southgate hails impressive win over Senegal
England breeze into World Cup quarters with 3-0 win over Senegal (updated)

Others Also Read