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Myanmar’s Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, Australian Adviser, Three Ministers Jailed for Three Years


A Myanmar military regime-controlled court on Thursday sentenced the country’s deposed democracy leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her economic team, including Australian economist Sean Turnell, to three years’ imprisonment each for violating the Official Secrets Act.

The verdicts were delivered at a special court inside a prison compound in the capital Naypyitaw.

The latest three-year term means Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has been sentenced to a total of 23 years in prison so far in 12 cases filed by the junta.

Turnell, a former key economic adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) government, was detained by the junta shortly after last year’s coup, which ousted the NLD government.

From left to right: Detained ministers of planning and finance U Soe Win and U Kyaw Win and deputy planning and finance minister U Set Aung.

He was charged with violating the country’s official secrets law and faced a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison.

The exact details of Turnell’s alleged offense have not been made public, although the junta has said that he had “secret state financial information” in his possesssion and tried to flee the country.

In August, the economist denied the charges, saying documents used as evidence against him contained his recommendations regarding Myanmar’s economy, which he had presented to the NLD government in his role as an economic adviser, and were not secret, a court source said.

Since seizing power, Myanmar’s military regime has detained thousands of pro-democracy protesters, with many facing secret trials that rights groups have decried as politically motivated.

Turnell still faces another charge of violating the Immigration Act.

Also sentenced on Thursday were Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s planning and finance ministers U Kyaw Win and U Soe Win, and her deputy planning and finance minister, U Set Aung.

Sources close to the trial said Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the ministers would appeal the verdicts.

“For Sean Turnell, it’s not clear how the [Australian] embassy will proceed,” a source said.

All five are being held at Naypyitaw Prison, and all present at the court hearing on Thursday appeared to be in good health, the source said.