Myanmar deports US national in Suu Kyi case

A US man sentenced to seven years’ hard labour for swimming to the home of democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi flew out of Myanmar on Sunday with an American senator who secured his release.

John Yettaw was earlier handed over to the US embassy officials at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison, after Democrat Jim Webb held landmark talks with the reclusive chief of Myanmar’s military regime, Than Shwe. The ruling junta, however, ignored Webb’s calls to free Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, who was this week sentenced to another 18 months of house arrest after being convicted on charges sparked by Yettaw’s bizarre stunt in May.

“The military plane carrying Mr Yettaw and Mr Webb has left Yangon airport,” a Myanmar official said after Yettaw was taken from the jail to the airport. Another official said earlier that the regime was officially deporting Yettaw, adding: “His sentence has been reduced to three-and-a-half years and then made a suspended sentence.” Webb, who also met Suu Kyi on Saturday, thanked the junta for freeing Yettaw, an eccentric 54-year-old former military veteran who suffers from epilepsy and diabetes.

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