Intellasia East Asia News – Australian held in Burma pleads not guilty in closed court, media reports say

An Australian economist and former adviser to deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi has pleaded not guilty in a closed Myanmar court to charges of violating a state secrets law, according to media reports on Friday.

Sean Turnell has been detained in Myanmar since February 6 last year, a few days after the military ousted Suu Kyi’s elected government in a coup. He faces up to 14 years in prison if convicted.

Australian broadcaster ABC cited a legal official as saying Turnell had testified in court for the first time since his arrest but few details were available.

Australian Acting prime minister Richard Marles said he was “concerned about the level of access that is available to those providing consular services to” Turnell.

“We expect that there is transparency, that there is an application of justice, and an application of procedural fairness. And we are concerned about all of those in its application to Professor Turnell,” Marles told reporters on Friday.

A lawyer for Turnell did not answer phone calls from Reuters seeking comment. A spokesperson for Myanmar’s military government was not immediately available for comment.

Turnell, who is also a professor of economics at Macquarie University in Australia, is expected to be tried alongside Suu Kyi, who has also been detained since the coup, and several members of her economic team indicted for the same offence.


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