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Wife of detained Australian economist says he is being treated well in Myanmar prison

Published: Updated:

Sean Turnell, an Australian economic advisor to deposed Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is being treated well since he was detained last month, his wife said on Wednesday.

Turnell was taken away by security forces on February 6, five days after Suu Kyi was overthrown and detained. The army has not announced any charges against Turnell, who had been advising Suu Kyi on economic policy for several years.

Turnell’s wife, Ha Vu, said that both she and the Australian embassy had spoken to him in the past month.

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“Both times, he said he has been treated very well,” she wrote on Facebook. “The officers and policemen he was engaging with were very polite and respectful to him.”

Australia has called for Turnell’s release. Reuters was unable to reach a junta spokesman for comment.

Ha Vu said that Turnell had been well fed and had his own room with bedding and a mosquito net. He also had his belongings, including medication, she said - adding that she wished she could speak to him more often.

Turnell is among nearly 2,000 people the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners advocacy group says have been detained since the coup. It says more than 60 people have been killed by security forces in anti-coup protests.

State television said on Monday that Turnell’s detention had led to the discovery of important financial information.

“I believe the Myanmar military knows that my husband is a good man, a committed economist who always wanted to use his knowledge and expertise for the good of others,” Ha Vu said.

“I understand the generals have their own reasons for holding Sean, even though he has done nothing wrong.”

Turnell is a professor of economics at Macquarie University in Sydney.

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