Conflicts & War

Suu Kyi’s Australian advisor arrives home after release from Myanmar prison

Update 1: Adds Kubota return to Japan, quotes

Sydney, Australia, Nov 18 (EFE).- Sean Turnell, an Australian economist and former advisor to deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, has arrived in Melbourne following his release from prison as part of a mass amnesty, his wife confirmed Friday.

“He’s here,” Hu Vu wrote in a message on Facebook alongside a photo with Turnell, while in another, she wrote: “I am over the moon and speechless. So it’s best to just say THANK YOU.”

The Macquarie University economist, who was an arrested soon after Suu Kyi in the days following the February 2021 military coup and spent 650 days behind bars, has not appeared before the press and his family have asked that their privacy be respected.

Turnell, who arrived in Australia around midnight from Thailand, was sentenced along with Suu Kyi in September to three years in prison for violating the Official Secrets Act.

He was released on Thursday as part of a mass amnesty along with Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota and former United Kingdom ambassador Vicky Bowman, the three highest-profile foreigners detained and sentenced by the military junta since the coup, as well as almost 6,000 prisoners.

Kubota arrived Friday in Japan on a commercial flight hours after being released as part of an amnesty granted by the ruling military junta in that country.

“I feel a sense of gratitude that I cannot describe for having been released so soon despite having been sentenced to 10 years in prison,” Kubota said after arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda airport, local news agency Kyodo reported.

Kubota was arrested in July while filming civil protests against the junta and was sentenced to a decade in prison for allegedly inciting dissent, violating Myanmar telecommunication laws and immigration laws.

The director was received at the airport by numerous television cameras and about 30 people, including some friends, who gave him a bouquet of flowers.

Asked about the conditions of his imprisonment, Kubota said he was alone in a single room and received the sentence with great regret, adding that the situation in Myanmar is harsh.

“It has been confirmed that his health is good,” government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said on his behalf Friday, speaking about Kubota’s release at a press conference.

More than 2,500 people have been killed since the coup due to the brutal repression carried out by security forces, according to data from the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. EFE


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