Thursday, May 7, 2009

US Man Arrested for Entering Suu Kyi Home

The Irrawaddy News

RANGOON (AP)— Police tightened security around Burma's detained opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Thursday after an American man was reportedly arrested for swimming across a lake and sneaking into her lakeside home.

More than 20 police entered Suu Kyi's compound Thursday morning, according to neighbors who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals in the military-ruled country. Despite tight security outside the home, police rarely enter Suu Kyi's compound where she has been kept under house arrest for more than 13 of the past 19 years.

The Myanma Ahlin newspaper reported Thursday that police fished an American man out of Rangoon's Inya Lake early Wednesday while he was returning from a visit to Suu Kyi's home.

The newspaper identified the man as John William Yeattaw but gave no details of his motives. It said the man had confessed to swimming across the lake Sunday evening, sneaking into Suu Kyi's residence and then returning late Tuesday before being spotted and arrested early Wednesday.

"He secretly entered the house and stayed there," the newspaper reported, saying that he swam with an empty 5-liter plastic water jug, presumably to use as a float.

Police confiscated the man's belongings which included an American passport, a black backpack, a pair of pliers, a camera and two US 100 dollar bills, the newspaper reported.

A spokesman from the US Embassy in Rangoon said he was "trying to find out" details of the arrest.

"The embassy has not yet been informed by authorities and we don't know anything about it," said spokesman Richard Mei.

Suu Kyi's home is tightly guarded and she is not allowed visitors, aside from her doctor.

It would be the first time that anyone has snuck into her compound or swam across the lake to get there. Swimming in Inya Lake in the vicinity of Suu Kyi's compound is not allowed.

Earlier this week, Burma's junta rejected an appeal to free Suu Kyi, whose most recent period of detention is due to expire May 27, according to a party spokesman.

The National League for Democracy spokesman Nyan Win said the country's military authorities summoned the assistant to Suu Kyi's lawyer to the administrative capital of Naypyitaw last Friday and handed over a letter rejecting the appeal for her release.

Nyan Win said he is still hopeful Suu Kyi will be freed later this month when her six-year detention expires, although there were no indications that she would be released.

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