Aung San Suu Kyi’s Australian economic adviser will be among five people to go on trial later this month, according to a report, on the same day another foreign national, U.S. journalist Danny Fenster received a harsh jail sentence.
Sean Turnell; along with Finance Ministry officials including Minister Soe Win, Deputy Minister Set Aung, and former Minister Kyaw Win; will be tried for violating the Government Secrecy Act in connection with business documents allegedly found on Turnell’s computer. He was arrested in Yangon following the Feb. 1 coup, and the case went to a special court in Naypyidaw on Thursday.
Fenster, 37, was convicted after five months of hard time of three crimes: violating immigration law, associating with an illegal organization and inciting fear. Though he was the editor of Frontier Myanmar and on his way out of the country upon his arrest in May, he was prosecuted for once working for another outlet on the junta shit list: Myanmar Now.
On Wednesday he was hit with two fresh counts of terrorism and sedition, for which he faces life in prison if found guilty.
Turnell and his co-defendants have been allowed to meet with lawyers to discuss their defense. Suu Kyi was present and discussed the details with Turnell. All five defendants are believed to be in good health.
They face up to 14 years in prison if convicted of trafficking defense and military secrets, and up to three years in prison for other offenses. Critics of the military regime say the case, like that against Fenster, is politically motivated and note that judges are unlikely to buck the military’s desired outcome.
Turnell is an associate economics professor at Sydney’s Macquarie University but had gone on sabbatical to work as senior economic adviser in Myanmar.