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Updated: July 15, 2010 19:11 IST

Former Suu Kyi’s aide released from jail in Myanmar

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Nyan Win, left, and Kyi Win, right, both lawyers of detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo: AP.
Nyan Win, left, and Kyi Win, right, both lawyers of detained Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. File photo: AP.

A former aide to Myanmar’s detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was released from prison on Thursday after 14 years behind bars in the military—led country.

An official confirmed the release of U Win Htein and said he will be brought from the prison in northern Myanmar to Yangon, where his family lives. The official spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

“U Win Htein was released today from Kathar prison. I am very happy for his freedom but he was released because his detention period was up,” said Nyan Win, a spokesman from Suu Kyi’s now—disbanded National League for Democracy.

Win Htein, 66, had been serving a 14—year sentence on charges of providing false information to the foreign press, according to the U.S. Campaign for Burma, which lobbies against aid to the military regime.

Win Htein was released briefly in 2008 during an amnesty, but was rearrested 17 hours later without explanation.

In those 17 hours of freedom, Win Htein gave an interview to the Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway—based shortwave radio station and website that is run by exiled Myanmar dissidents.

He said he could not accept a new constitution that allotted 25 percent of seats in both houses of parliament to the military and empowered the president to transfer legislative, executive and judicial powers to the military’s commander in chief for a year if a state of emergency arose.

He did not detail his complaints, but said, “If we oppose or go against the constitution, we will be sent back to prison.”

A former army officer, Win Htein joined Ms. Suu Kyi’s party when it was formed in 1988 and served as a personal assistant and senior adviser to Ms. Suu Kyi and her deputy, Tin Oo.

The ruling junta has called for the first polls in two decades to be held later this year, though no date has yet been set. Critics have dismissed the election as a sham designed to cement nearly 50 years of military rule in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Ms. Suu Kyi has been held under house arrest by the military government for about 14 of the past 20 years. Her party was disbanded after refusing to register for the elections by a May 6 deadline.

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