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Bangkok Post
Bangkok Post

Wife pleads for release of Australian sentenced in Myanmar

A photo from the state-run Myanmar News Agency taken on July 28, 2021 shows Sean Turnell, a detained Australian adviser to the former civilian government of Myanmar, receiving a checkup prior to a Covid-19 vaccination in Insein prison where he has been detained. (Handout Photo via AFP)

The wife of Australian economist Sean Turnell pleaded for his release on Thursday, saying his jailing in Myanmar is “heartbreaking” for his whole family.

Ha Vu urged Myanmar to relent after Turnell was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment under the Official Secrets Act.

Australia’s government said it rejected the sentence and demanded his “immediate release”.

“It’s heartbreaking for me, our daughter, Sean’s 85-year-old father and the rest of our family,” Ha Vu said in a statement.

“My husband has already been in a Myanmar prison for almost two-thirds of his sentence. Please consider the contributions that he has made to Myanmar, and deport him now,” she added.

Detained since the military coup in February last year, Turnell was previously an adviser to the civilian government of ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who also received another three-year jail sentence this week.

Ha Vu said Turnell had been one of Myanmar’s “greatest supporters” for more than 20 years, working “tirelessly” to strengthen its economy.

Australian foreign minister, Penny Wong, said Turnell was tried in a closed court with no consular access.

Australia will “advocate strongly” for Turnell until he is returned to his family, she said.

Australia has contested the charges during the more than 19 months that Turnell has been “unjustly detained by the Myanmar military regime”, she added.

“The Australian government rejects today’s court ruling … and calls for his immediate release,” she said.

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