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Senator: U.S. Myanmar prisoner freed

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Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to a crowd in this undated photo. (UPI Photo) | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/5f050684ed533fa58fa49ae3c5be0e96/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi speaks to a crowd in this undated photo. (UPI Photo) | License Photo

YANGON, Myanmar, Aug. 15 (UPI) -- American John Yettaw, sentenced to seven years of hard labor in Myanmar, has been released to U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, D Va., officials said Saturday.

Yettaw was convicted this year of violating immigration and other laws for swimming uninvited two miles across a lake and visiting detained Mynamar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi at her home. Suu Kyi was sentenced this week to an 18-month extension of her long-standing house arrest over the incident, triggering worldwide condemnation of Mynamar's ruling military junta.

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A statement released by Webb's office Saturday said the senator, who chairs the East Asia and Pacific Affairs subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will accompany Yettaw to Bangkok aboard a military aircraft, CNN reported.

Earlier in the day, Webb visited Suu Kyi at her home, an opportunity that came a day after meeting with Myanmar's top official, junta leader Gen. Than Shwe.

"It is my hope that we can take advantage of these gestures as a way to begin laying a foundation of good will and confidence-building in the future," Webb said in a statement, describing his hour-long meeting with Suu Kyi as "an opportunity for me to convey my deep respect to Aung San Suu Kyi for the sacrifices she has made on behalf of democracy around the world," the U.S. broadcaster reported.

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Yettaw, 53, an ex-military serviceman from Falcon, Mo., reportedly stayed in Suu Kyi's home for two days, testifying in court that God had sent him to protect her from assassination.

Webb, on a two-week tour of Southeast Asia, is the first member of Congress to visit Myanmar in more than 10 years.

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