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Macquarie university professor sean turnell, junta of violating Myanmar country

A three-year prison term has been given to an Australian economic adviser in Myanmar.

The junta has found Sean Turnell guilty of breaking the country's official secrets act. He was arrested five days after the military took power in a coup.

Sean Turnell was an economic adviser to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the jailed civilian leader of Myanmar. On Thursday, he was found guilty of breaking an official secrets act and a visa law and given three years in prison.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi got the same sentence for breaking the law on official secrets. This is the latest in a long line of convictions that have already put her in prison for 20 years. The same sentence was also given to three former people who worked in the Ministry of Finance.

Last year, Mr. Turnell was arrested in Myanmar five days after the military took over the government in a coup that led to months of protests and a lot of deaths. He said he was innocent and has been in jail since February 2021, where he can't meet with his lawyer or people from the Australian embassy.

Senior Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, who was in charge of the army and led the coup, is said to have said that Mr. Turnell's continued detention was in response to Australia's decision to lower the status of its embassy in Myanmar.

Macquarie university professor sean turnell, junta of violating Myanmar country
Sean Turnell at the 2017 Asia Summit of the Milken Institute, held in Singapore. Before the coup in 2021, he was Daw Aung San Suu Kyi's economic adviser. Since then, he has been in jail.

This year, Australia got rid of its ambassador and sent a lower-ranking representative instead, so as not to give legitimacy to the junta. In an interview with the state-owned newspaper New Light of Myanmar, the general said, "Turnell's case would not have become so serious if the Australian government had acted more positively."

Mr. Turnell, who was 57 years old, taught economics at Macquarie University in Sydney and was an expert on Myanmar. He joined Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi's government as an economic adviser after she was elected in 2015 and started putting together her government. He said that his main goal was to create a stable economy and a good banking system so that he could attract foreign investment and make jobs.

He is now one of more than 15,000 political prisoners who have been arrested since the coup, says an independent group called the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. U Kyaw Win, U Soe Win, and U Set Aung, who used to work in the Ministry of Finance, were also on trial.

Vicky Bowman, a 56-year-old former British ambassador, and Turo Kubota, a 26-year-old Japanese documentary filmmaker who was arrested while covering a protest, are also in prison in Myanmar on charges that have nothing to do with each other.

From 2002 to 2006, Ms. Bowman was the British ambassador to Myanmar. In 2013, she started the Myanmar Center for Responsible Business, which helps businesses do things the right way. She and her Burmese husband, U Htein Lin, a famous artist and former political prisoner, were arrested on August 24 and given a year in prison for breaking immigration law by living at an unregistered address.

Myanmar sentenced Nang Mwe San, a former doctor who became a model, to six years in prison on Wednesday for putting provocative photos and videos of herself on pornographic websites. This was a separate event. In a statement, the junta said that she "spread paid pornographic photos and videos that could hurt Myanmar's culture and pride."

In an interview with The New York Times in 2019, after she had lost her license to practice medicine, Ms. Mwe San said, "No matter what happens to me, I won't quit my job as a model. I just like being a model for photos." She didn't have a lawyer because she was tried in a local military court, and she was found guilty less than two weeks after her first court hearing.

Mr. Turnell was a low-key technocrat who didn't do anything with politics. Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, who is 77, still has to deal with seven more corruption cases, which could add another 105 years to her sentence.

A Myanmar expert at Georgetown University, David I. Steinberg, said that the military wants to make sure that Aung San Suu Kyi never takes part in politics again.


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