Suu Kyi charged under Official Secrets Act, says lawyer

The junta has charged Myanmar’s ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi with violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act, which carries a penalty of up to 14 years in prison, one of her lawyers said.

She was charged at the eastern district court in Yangon under Section 3 (1) (c) of the 1923 law. The section criminalises the possession, collection, recording, publishing, or sharing of state information that is “directly or indirectly useful to an enemy.”

Min Min Soe, from the National League for Democracy’s (NLD) legal team, revealed details of the charge after a video link hearing for Suu Kyi on Thursday at the Zabuthiri township court in Naypyitaw. She said she did not have further details. 

Court officials only allowed her to attend the hearing, barring other defence lawyers.

Another lawyer named San Marlar Nyunt has been trying to secure power of attorney to represent Suu Kyi, Min Min Soe said. “There was a hearing on March 25. Lawyer San Marlar Nyunt is still not allowed to represent her. That’s all I know.”

Myanmar Now was unable to contact San Marlar Nyunt for more information about the latest charge.

Combined with the four charges that Suu Kyi has already been hit with, she now faces a prison sentence of up to 23 years. 

The NLD chair stands accused of importing walkie-talkies in violation of the Export and Import Law, and of breaching the Natural Disaster Management Law by defying regulations aimed at curbing Covid-19 while campaigning in last year’s election — a charge also filed against detained President Win Myint.

Suu Kyi spoke with her lawyer via video call on Wednesday, the first such meeting she has been allowed since she was detained along with other senior government officials in late night raids on February 1. 

After the hearing on Thursday, the cases of detained Naypyitaw mayor Myo Aung and President Win Myint were also heard. 

Naypyitaw mayor Myo Aung, who is also a member of the NLD’s central executive committee, was charged under 505b of the Penal Code, which criminalises “any statement, rumour or report” that may induce the public to “commit an offence against the state.”

All three defendants said they were happy for eight members of the NLD’s legal team to represent their cases, Min Min Soe said.

“I have asked the court at the hearing to allow us to be able to represent them and meet with them in person, not via video call,” Min Min Soe said. “The judge has instructed the police to give comments at the next hearing.” The next hearing is scheduled for April 12.

Last week a Naypyitaw court postponed a video hearing scheduled for Suu Kyi and detained President Win Myint, citing a lack of internet access. 

The junta has cut off access to mobile internet and blocked public wifi networks nationwide in a bid to disrupt communications within the anti-coup movement. 

From Friday all wireless broadband services will also be cut, meaning only people with fibre connections will be able to get online. 


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