Topic: John Yettaw

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On 4 May 2009, the American citizen John Yettaw trespassed upon the residence of Burmese political prisoner Aung San Suu Kyi, two weeks before her scheduled release from house arrest on May 27. This illegal visit prompted Suu Kyi's arrest on May 13, 2009. Yettaw himself was arrested by Myanmar authorities on May 6. He was charged on May 14 with illegally entering a restricted zone, illegal swimming and breaking immigration laws. It is illegal in Myanmar to have a guest stay overnight at one's home without notifying the authorities first.

Their trial began May 18, 2009. On August 11, Yettaw was sentenced on three counts totaling seven years, including four hard labor. Suu Kyi was sentenced to eighteen months of house arrest. On August 14, U.S. Senator Jim Webb arrived in Myanmar and successfully negotiated Yettaw's release and August 16 deportation.

Myanmar authorities asserted that Yettaw's visits were instigated by opposition groups as part of efforts to pressure and embarrass the Myanmar government. International organizations and nations sympathetic to her cause said the charges against Suu Kyi were a ruse to extend her detention beyond the 2010 scheduled elections.

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