Myanmar junta denies release of detained Australian academic


Published on:

Yangon (AFP) – Myanmar’s junta has denied releasing an Australian academic held for nearly a year after the Cambodian leader on Monday took credit for arranging the release.

Economist Sean Turnell was working as an adviser to Myanmar civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi when he was arrested shortly after the February coup last year.

He has been charged with violating Myanmar’s official secrets law and faces a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison if convicted.

On Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said Turnell had “been released” the day before.

The Cambodian strongman, who met Myanmar’s junta leader last month, said the release came after he passed on a request from the Australian government.

“At that time, I made the request to Min Aung Hlaing and Min Aung Hlaing said he would think about it positively,” Hun Sen said, answering questions about his trip to Myanmar.

“Yesterday he was released,” he added, referring to Turnell.

Junta spokesman Zaw Min Tun denied that Turnell had been released, but acknowledged that Hun Sen had raised the issue during his visit – the first to Myanmar by a foreign leader since the coup. Last year.

“About this case, General-in-Chief Ming Aung Hlaing said he would think about it after his trial is over,” he told AFP.

Turnell appeared in court every Thursday in the military capital Naypyidaw for his trial – where he is a co-defendant alongside Suu Kyi.

Human rights groups have raised concerns about his prosecution, particularly after the Australian Embassy was denied access to his hearing in September.

Exact details of Turnell’s alleged offense have not been made public, although state television said he had access to ‘secret state financial information’ and attempted to flee the country .


Comments are closed.