Burma releases US citizen

A Burmese-born US citizen who was sentenced in February to three years in prison with hard labour by a Rangoon court has been released.

The announcement came from the US embassy in Rangoon, which has been granted sporadic access to Kyaw Zaw Lwin, also known as Nyi Nyi Aung, since he was arrested upon arrival at Rangoon airport in September last year.

“We can confirm that Kyaw Zaw Lwin has been released from prison and has left the country,” said US embassy spokesperson Drake Weisert, adding that the US “welcomed the development”.

Kyaw Zaw Lwin, a rights activist who fled Burma to the US in 1993, was convicted of forging an identity card, failing to declare currency at customs and violating immigration laws.

Critics of the ruling junta in Burma said however that he was being punished for his high-profile activist work, which included delivering a petition with 600,000 signatures to UN chief Ban Ki-moon calling for the release of political prisoners in Burma.

According to his fiance in the US, Kyaw Zaw Lwin had flown to Burma last year to visit his mother, who has cancer. His sentencing drew international condemnation of the ruling regime in Burma.

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