Australian academic Sean Turnell, who worked as an adviser to Burmese ‘former de facto leader’ Aung San Suu Kyi, pleaded not guilty this Friday in what was his first appearance in court after being accused of allegedly violating the Secrets Act States of Burma.
Turnell, an economist and professor at Macquarie University in Sydney, was arrested shortly after the coup d’etat that took place in the country on February 1, 2021. Since then he has been in a prison in Naypyidaw, the country’s capital, just like Suu Kyi herself.
Sources close to the matter have thus confirmed that Turnell has rejected the accusations made against him and has pleaded not guilty during a hearing that has been held behind closed doors, according to information from the newspaper ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’. However, several witnesses have indicated that the accused appears to be in good health.
The details of the case have not been disclosed at the moment, although Burmese media suggest that Turnell would have had access to “secret financial information” and had tried to flee the country.
Turnell’s was the first known arrest of a foreign citizen since Army generals took power after alleging electoral fraud in the November 8 elections, which sealed a new victory for the National League for Democracy (NLD), the Suu Kyi’s formation.