US prosecutors arrest two Myanmar citizens for plot to attack UN ambassador News
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US prosecutors arrest two Myanmar citizens for plot to attack UN ambassador

US prosecutors announced Friday the arrest of two Myanmar citizens for a plot to injure or kill Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations (UN) who represents Myanmar’s elected government.

The investigative work of the FBI’s Westchester Safe Streets Task Force, which comprises special agents from various entities such as the FBI, NYPD, and New York State Police, resulted in these charges. Phyo Hein Htut, 28, and Ye Hein Zaw, 20, were charged separately with one count of conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon a foreign official.

Audrey Strauss, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that two citizens of Myanmar, Htut and Zaw, have been arrested for a plan to attack Myanmar’s Permanent Representative to the UN. He stated:

As alleged, Phyo Hein Htut and Ye Hein Zaw plotted to seriously injure or kill Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations in a planned attack on a foreign official that was to take place on American soil. We commend the tireless work of our law enforcement partners at all levels of government to ensure the safety of foreign diplomats and officials.

It is alleged that between July 2021 and August 5, 2021, Htut and Zaw, while residing in New York, communicated and transferred money to an arms dealer in Thailand, who sells weapons to the Burmese military that overthrew Myanmar’s civilian government in February 2021. The plan involved hiring attackers to injure Tun to force him to step down from his post and killing him upon refusal.

Tun had been dismissed by the junta in an announcement on state-run television, after he spoke out against the junta in February 2021. Tun made headlines after the coup by flashing the three-finger salute of democracy, despite the junta’s insistence that he was fired from his post. Earlier this week, Tun shared that security measures had been increased due to a threat against him.

Strauss has indicated that the investigation is ongoing, and any individuals with relevant information are asked to contact the FBI. The charges carry a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

More information on JURIST’s ongoing coverage of the Myanmar coup can be found here.