Australian Economist Sean Turnell Sentenced to Three Years Jail in Myanmar

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Australian economist and former advisor to Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been jailed for three years by junta authorities.
Australian economist and former advisor to Myanmar's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been jailed for three years by junta authorities.

Australian economist and former advisor to Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi has been jailed for three years by junta authorities.

Sean Turnell was detained in Yangon in February 2021 after the military initiated a coup and arrested former leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Australian professor was charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act, and sentenced on Thursday in closed court trials run by the junta.

“The Australian Government has consistently rejected the charges against Professor Turnell during the more than 19 months he had been unjustly detained by the Myanmar military regime,” said Australia’s Foreign Minister Penny Wong.

“We will continue to take every opportunity to advocate strongly for Professor Turnell until he has returned to his family in Australia.”

Details regarding the offenses the junta says Sean Turnell committed have not been made publicly available, however, at his trial in August the Australian professor denied breaking the state secrets law.

The Australian government has repeatedly urged the junta to release him, and Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen also requested his release in a meeting with Myanmar’s military leader, General Min Aung Hlaing, earlier this year.

In February 2021, Myanmar’s military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government, igniting massive protests across the country and a widespread resistance movement.

Nearly 16,000 people are said to have been arrested since the military seized power, among them former UK ambassador to Myanmar, Vicky Bowman, who was jailed for a year for allegedly breaching immigration laws.