Weeks after the military seized control of the country and declared martial law, Myanmar’s deposed leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been charged by the junta with violating Myanmar’s Official Secrets Act, her lawyer said on Thursday.
The colonial-era statute criminalizes the sharing of government information and is the most serious charge that can be brought against the opponent of military rule.
Suu Kyi, three of her deposed cabinet ministers and a detained Australian economic adviser, Sean Turnell, were charged a week ago in a Yangon court under the official secrets law, Suu Kyi’s chief lawyer Khin Maung Zaw told Reuters.
A conviction under the law can carry a penalty of up to 14 years in prison.
Suu Kyi and other members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party have been detained since the coup on Feb 1. The junta had earlier accused her of several minor offenses including illegally importing handheld radios and breaching coronavirus protocols.
The ruling military council has also accused her of bribery.
Suu Kyi, who is 75 years old and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her efforts to bring democracy to Myanmar, appeared on video for a hearing in connection with the earlier charges on Thursday.
Another of her lawyers, Min Min Soe, said “Amay Su and President U Win Myint are in good health,” referring to Suu Kyi by an affectionate term for mother.
Myanmar has been rocked by protests since the army overthrew Suu Kyi’s elected government on Feb. 1, citing claims of fraud in a November election that her party won.
At least 538 civilians have been killed protesting against the coup, 141 of whom were killed last Saturday, the bloodiest day of the unrest, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group.
Armed forces in Myanmar have killed more than 40 children in the two months since a military…