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Myanmar’s Suu Kyi testifies in her official secrets case


BANGKOK — Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi testified in a courtroom in the capital’s prison on Thursday for the first time in her official secrets case, a legal official said.

Suu Kyi, detained since the military overthrew her government last year, is on trial in Naypyitaw along with Australian economist Sean Turnell and three former Cabinet members on the same charge, which faces up to 14 years in prison.

Suu Kyi has denied all charges against her and pleaded not guilty, said the legal chief, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to release information.

Sean Turnell, an economist at Macquarie University in Sydney, was an adviser to Suu Kyi.

The colonial-era Secrets Act criminalizes possessing, collecting, recording, publishing, or sharing state information that is “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.”

Exact details of the alleged offense in the case have not been made public, although Myanmar state television, citing government statements, said last year that Turnell had access to “information secret state finances” and attempted to flee the country.

Suu Kyi was sentenced Monday to six years in prison on four counts of corruption.

Earlier, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison after being found guilty of illegally importing and possessing walkie-talkies, violating coronavirus restrictions, sedition and another bribery charge, bringing her total prison sentence to 17 years. Trials on several other counts are ongoing.

Suu Kyi’s supporters and independent analysts say the charges are politically motivated and an attempt to discredit her and legitimize the military’s takeover while preventing her from returning to politics.

Details of Thursday’s proceedings were not available because Suu Kyi’s lawyers have been barred by a gag order since last year from revealing information about her trials, all of which are closed to the media and public.

The legal officer said Suu Kyi appeared to be in good health.

Another co-accused, former Union minister Kyaw Win, is due to testify next week.

Turnell testified last week, also denying the charges against him. Both he and Suu Kyi are being held in the prison where the trial is taking place in a special courtroom.

Suu Kyi is also on trial there for electoral fraud, punishable by three years in prison, and seven counts of corruption, each punishable by a maximum sentence of 15 years and a fine.

The army takeover last year was met with peaceful protests across the country. After security forces unleashed lethal force against protesters, some opponents of military rule turned to armed resistance in many areas.

ABC News

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