Saturday, 15 August 2009

Breaking news

Senator gains release of American jailed in Myanmar

(CNN) -- U.S. Sen. Jim Webb obtained the release Saturday of American John Yettaw, who had been sentenced to seven years of hard labor in Myanmar for visiting detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Webb will accompany Yettaw to Bangkok, Thailand, Sunday on a military aircraft, his office said.

Webb also met for about 40 minutes Saturday with Suu Kyi, a witness said. It was not known what they discussed.

"It is my hope that we can take advantage of these gestures as a way to begin laying a foundation of goodwill and confidence-building in the future," Webb said in a statement.

Webb, a Virginia Democrat, is the first member of Congress to visit Myanmar in more than a decade. Though he is not in the country on behalf of the State Department, his trip may indicate a shift in America's hard-line stance against the reclusive country.

Webb is chairman of the East Asia and Pacific Affairs subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Before meeting Suu Kyi on Saturday, Webb met with Myanmar's top official, junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe.

Webb's visit -- part of a two-week, five-nation tour of Asia -- comes just days after the conviction of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Suu Kyi.

She was sentenced on Tuesday to 18 months of house arrest stemming from a May incident in which Yettaw swam two miles uninvited to her home, violating the terms of her house arrest.

Yettaw had been sentenced to seven years of hard labor.

A Myanmar court initially sentenced Suu Kyi to three years in prison for violating her house arrest, but Than Shwe commuted it to the year and a half of house arrest.

Yettaw, a 53-year-old former military serviceman from Falcon, Missouri, stayed in Suu Kyi's home for two days.

He testified in court that God had sent him to Myanmar to protect the opposition leader because he dreamed that a terrorist group would assassinate her. He was convicted of violating immigration laws, municipal laws and Suu Kyi's house arrest terms.

The United Nations Security Council on Thursday expressed "serious concern" over Suu Kyi's conviction and its political impact, and urged the government to "create the necessary conditions for a genuine dialogue" with the pro-democracy leader.

Also Thursday, the European Union adopted "a new set of targeted measures" against Myanmar in reaction to the verdict against Suu Kyi. Under the measures, members of the Myanmar judiciary responsible for Suu Kyi's conviction will be added to a list of people and entities subject to a travel ban and assets freeze.

Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the past 20 years in one form of confinement or another -- most recently under house arrest in a crumbling lakeside home. The country's regime rarely allows her visitors, and foreigners are not allowed overnight stays in local households without government permission. Suu Kyi, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, has said she doesn't know Yettaw, did not know of his plans and denied any wrongdoing. She told the court she did not report the intrusion because she did not want Yettaw or anyone else to get in trouble.


Darli said...

American who mess up is free now and our leader has to be 18 more months house arrest.
Huge Foreign Support!!!

Thamee Khin said...

He was really trouble maker. As consequences of his behavior, lots of people were arrested during trail. What about them? What about their families? Now he walked out from jail and going back home with his American senator on special flight. Is it a respect on Myanmar people and humanitarian support to us?

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