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Australian economist Sean Turnell convicted in Myanmar after ‘sham’ trial

Commenting on the sentencing of Australian national Sean Turnell to three years in prison on charges of violating the Official Secrets Act, Amnesty International Australia Impact Director Tim O’Connor said:

“Like thousands of others languishing behind bars since the 1 February, 2021 coup in Myanmar, Sean Turnell was denied a fair trial or adequate access to legal counsel and consular assistance. The proceedings have been an outright sham and Myanmar’s military must immediately release Turnell so he can return to his family in Australia.

“Today’s conviction is the latest in a string of politically motivated cases all designed to cement the rule of the rights-abusing Myanmar military since it seized power in the coup. The charges against Turnell and former civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who was also sentenced in one of several cases against her today, are bogus and cannot be taken seriously.

“Under military rule in Myanmar, arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention and secretive, closed-door trials have become routine. Anyone who cannot be charged with a recognizable criminal offense under international law must be freed immediately.”


Sean Turnell had been a longtime economic adviser to the civilian government in Myanmar, which was ousted in a military coup on 1 February, 2021. He lived and worked in Myanmar for many years.

Within days of the coup he was detained in Yangon, the commercial capital, and has been held in different prison facilities ever since. On 29 September, he was convicted of violating the Official Secrets Act alongside Aung San Suu Kyi, who has faced numerous charges since her arrest at the beginning of the coup.

Myanmar’s military has arrested more than 15,000 people since the coup and killed more than 2,300, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.