American held in Myanmar heads home

American John Yettaw reportedly said God told him to go to Suu Kyi's house to protect her.
John Yettaw, the American convicted in Myanmar of illegally entering the country to visit pro-democracy leader and Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, left Thailand Wednesday, authorities and government officials said.

Yettaw, a 53-year-old former military serviceman from Falcon, Missouri, was sentenced last week for a May 3 incident when he swam, uninvited, to the house of Suu Kyi and stayed for two days. U.S. Sen. Jim Webb obtained Yettaw’s release on Saturday in Myanmar. There Webb met separately with both Suu Kyi and Myanmar’s top official, junta leader Senior Gen. Than Shwe. Yettaw’s presence at Suu Kyi’s compound had violated the terms of the house arrest she was under at the time, Myanmar’s government said. A military court found her guilty last week and commuted her three-year prison sentence to 18 more months in home confinement. Under the order from Than Shwe, Suu Kyi will be allowed to meet with government-approved guests and have access to television and newspapers. She will not be allowed to leave the home, however. It was unclear where the home would be. Yettaw was sentenced to seven years of hard labor. He was convicted of violating immigration laws, municipal laws and the house arrest terms. Also on trial were a mother and daughter who serve as Suu Kyi’s companions in her heavily guarded residence — and are members of the National League for Democracy. They also were convicted of violating the house arrest terms and were sentenced to 18 months of house arrest, to be served with Suu Kyi.

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Yettaw testified in court that God had sent him to Myanmar to protect the opposition leader because he dreamed that a terrorist group would assassinate her. Suu Kyi’s lawyers tried to turn the case on its head by arguing that the government had failed to protect her. Suu Kyi said she didn’t know Yettaw or his plans and denied she had any wrongdoing. Suu Kyi’s supporters said the trial was meant to keep her confined so she cannot participate in the general elections that the junta has scheduled for next year.