Embassy confirms meeting with American detained in Myanmar

Pro-democracy supporters hold a portrait of Aung San Suu Kyi in New Delhi, India, last November.
A U.S. Embassy official in Myanmar met Wednesday with a detained American suspected of sneaking into the home of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate under house arrest by the government.

The U.S. Embassy confirmed a three-minute meeting between one of its officials and John William Yeattaw, who Myanmar media say swam across Inya Lake on May 3 and sneaked into Suu Kyi’s tightly guarded residence. It was the first meeting U.S. officials have had with Yeattaw since reports of the incident, the embassy said. The embassy official reported that Yeattaw is being kept in a Yangon jail and appeared to be doing well. There are no charges against him at present, and American officials were not told why he is being detained. The embassy said it will try to have more visits with Yeattaw in coming days. Myanmar TV News broadcast a still picture Wednesday of Yeattaw meeting with U.S. and Myanmar officials, including two from the U.S. Embassy. A pro-government Web site Tuesday had posted photos it said were of the man who sneaked into Suu Kyi’s home. Suu Kyi, 63, was first detained in 1989 and has been under house arrest for 13 of the past 19 years. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991. She is rarely allowed visitors, except her doctor. Police block the entrance to her lakeside home in Yangon, formerly known as Rangoon. And swimming in the lake is forbidden.

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American arrested for entering Suu Kyi home

A newspaper affiliated with the country’s military junta said the American was arrested while swimming back from the house. But the newspaper account did not mention whether the man had encountered Suu Kyi. A spokesman for Suu Kyi’s party, Nyan Win, said, “He’s not met with the Lady,” using the honorific for Suu Kyi. “He was hiding in the house. “The Lady is concerned about security in the compound. This event shows there is no security there.” Media accounts of the incident said the man confessed that he was visiting Yangon on a tourist visa and was staying at a hotel when he swam across the lake with a 5-liter water bottle, presumably to use as a float. Authorities found an American passport, a black backpack, a flashlight, a pair of folding pliers, a camera and money on him, the newspaper said.