Australia’s foreign ministry has confirmed the release of economist Sean Turnell from detention in Myanmar after more than 21 months.
He has arrived safely in Australia after being flown home via Bankok, where he received medical treatment, according to a Nov. 18 statement by the Australian government.
Turnell’s release comes just two months after he was sentenced to a three-year prison term in military-ruled Myanmar. At the time, he was found guilty of violating the country’s Official Secrets Act and was also convicted of violating immigration law.
The economist, who is 58, had served as an adviser to convicted former leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and was detained in the country’s capital, Naypyitaw, when her elected government was ousted by the army in February 2021.
Commenting on his release, Australia’s foreign minister, Sen. Penny Wong, said: “The Australian Government has worked tirelessly for Professor Turnell’s release, and we will continue to provide whatever consular support he and his family require.”
She added: “Australia thanks all those who have advocated for his release, including regional partners, and especially members of ASEAN. We are grateful for the efforts of Cambodia and Brunei Darussalam, the ASEAN Chairs over the term of his detention, and the Special Envoy of the ASEAN Chair on Myanmar.”
Australian Premier Anthony Albanese lobbied for Turnell’s release during the recent Asean and East Asia summits in Phnom Penh last weekend, engaging both the Cambodian and Vietamese prime ministers, according to the Guardian newspaper.