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Myanmar court charges US citizen with forgery as Suu Kyi hearing date set

[JURIST] A special court in Myanmar [JURIST news archive] Friday charged US citizen Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung [Freedom Now backgrounder], with forgery and violating the country's foreign currency act [AP report]. The charges could result in a maximum of ten years in prison if Aung is convicted. Aung was arrested on September 3 when he entered the country, and was initially accused of inciting anti-government unrest. He protested his arrest and treatment while in detention with a 12-day hunger strike in mid-December. Freedom Now [advocacy website], which represents Aung, claimed [press release] that the government had committed a variety of human rights violations:

During his first two weeks of his detention, Burmese authorities tortured Mr. Aung. He was deprived of food and sleep, beaten, and denied medical treatment. Mr. Aung was also illegally deprived of his right to U.S. consular access. He is also being denied his rights under Burmese law to a public trial and regular access to counsel.
Fifty-three members of the US House of Representatives have called [press release and letter, PDF] on Myanmar to release Aung, but the US government has not officially requested a release, despite additional calls [press release] from international groups like Human Rights Watch [advocacy website].

Also Friday, Myanmar's Supreme Court set January 18 as the date for the full court to hear final arguments by Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] in her latest appeal. Freedom Now represents both Aung and Suu Kyi. Myanmar's Supreme Court agreed in December to hear Suu Kyi's appeal of the latest 18-month extension of her house arrest. The decision for the full court to hear her appeal came as the result of a preliminary hearing held after the court initially agreed to consider the appeal [JURIST report]. Suu Kyi's lawyers filed the appeal in October after a lower court rejected [JURIST reports] an earlier appeal. They argue that her conviction should not stand because it is based on the now-defunct 1974 constitution.

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