Myanmar official says Suu Kyi to be released in November

Myanmar official says Suu Kyi to be released in November

[JURIST] A Myanmar government official has said that pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] will be released from house arrest in November when her sentence is scheduled to end. Witnesses reported [Reuters report] that Home Minister Major General Maung Oo [official website] made the statement Thursday during a speech to several hundred local officials in the town of Kyaukpadaung. The government of Myanmar is planning to hold the country's first elections since 1990 sometime this year, although a date has not yet been set, and Suu Kyi's supporters see the statement as an indication [AP report] that she will not be permitted to participate in the elections. Maung Oo's statement came just days after the Myanmar Supreme Court heard Suu Kyi's appeal contesting an 18-month extension to her house arrest [JURIST reports] that was imposed by a lower court in August. The court is expected to issue a ruling [CNN report] in the case within a month.

The extension of Suu Kyi's house arrest stems from an August conviction for violating state security laws by allowing American John Yettaw to stay in her home after he swam across a lake to get there. Yettaw, who was sentenced to seven years in prison with four years of hard labor, was released [JURIST report] in August after negotiations with US Senator Jim Webb (D-VA). Suu Kyi was initially sentenced to three years in prison with hard labor, but her sentence was immediately commuted by junta chief General Than Shwe. Suu Kyi has spent 14 of the last 20 years in detention, and her latest conviction has been condemned [BBC report] by many world leaders as a political move to prevent her from running in the upcoming elections. Her conviction has given rise to international sanctions [JURIST report] against Myanmar's junta and members of the judiciary.