Jailed Australian economist testifies in closed Myanmar trial | Military News

Sean Turnell, who was an adviser to leader-elect Aung San Suu Kyi, was arrested five days after last year’s coup.

An Australian academic and economic adviser to Myanmar’s elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was arrested after the military took power last year, has testified for the first time at a military court. the.

Sean Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University in Sydney, is on trial alongside Aung San Suu Kyi on charges of breaking the country’s official secrecy law.

Turnell was arrested Five days after the February 1 coup and currently being held in custody in the capital Naypyidaw, so is Aung San Suu Kyi. Three of her former Cabinet members are being tried with them in a closed court set up in the prison.

A legal official familiar with the proceedings on Thursday told the AP news agency that Turnell denied the charges against him and pleaded not guilty. No further details were available as his lawyer has been barred from speaking about the case. All trials involving Aung San Suu Kyi are held under similar restrictions.

The legal official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information, said Turnell and his co-conspirators appeared to be in good health.

Exact details of the offense in the case have also not been made public, although Myanmar state television, citing government statements, last year said Turnell had access to “confidential financial information”. state secrets” and tried to flee the country.

Turnell is also being prosecuted under Myanmar’s immigration law with penalties ranging from six months to five years in prison.

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said in June that Turnell’s release was a “priority“To the government, and pointed out that new sanctions against Myanmar are under consideration.

“Let’s face it, these are allegations fabricated by a dictatorship that wants to use Sean to discredit Aung San Suu Kyi. That’s all there is to it,” Tim Harcourt, a friend and economist, was quoted as saying by Australia’s public broadcaster, ABC.

The judge adjourned Thursday’s proceedings until next week, when Aung San Suu Kyi testifies. Aung San Suu Kyi, who remains hugely popular, is facing multiple charges including corruption and electoral fraud. The 76-year-old man was found guilty and imprisoned on corruption charges. The international community dismissed the trials as unjustified and demanded her immediate release.

Sean Turnell on stage with other speakers at the EU-Myanmar summit in 2017 when he was an adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi
Turnell, pictured right, was an economic adviser to Aung San Suu Kyi and was arrested five days after the military took power [File: Hein Htet/EPA]

Myanmar was in chaos since the coup, leading to a massive civil disobedience movement and nationwide protests. About 2,185 people were killed in the military’s crackdown on those who resisted its rule, sparking armed resistance that some United Nations experts call civil war.

Visits of Japanese legislators

With no mention of Turnell’s trial at state-run Myanmar’s Global New Light, the front page on Friday reported a meeting between coup leader Min Aung Hlaing and Japanese ruling party lawmaker. Hiromichi Watanabe version.

The visit, which Watanabe’s office confirmed took place from August 7 to 12, comes just days after the Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota is arrested while covering a protest in Yangon.

State media did not mention whether Kubota’s detention was discussed, saying that Watanabe and Min Aung Hlaing talked about bilateral relations, including plans to “plant cherry trees” and “spread the word”. misinformation about the political situation of Myanmar abroad and the need for people in Japan to know the real situation”.

Tokyo has called for the release of 26-year-old Kubota who entered Myanmar on a tourist visa and was arrested on July 30 in Yangon. He faces charges of breaking immigration laws and encouraging dissent against the ruling military.

Toru Kubota
Japanese documentary filmmaker Toru Kubota was detained by the military while filming an anti-coup protest in Yangon [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]

Yuki Kitazumi, a Japanese freelance journalist, has was released in Myanmar last year after initially being arrested and charged with spreading fake news by covering up anti-coup protests.

The military said his release was in recognition of the two countries’ close ties.

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