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Former British diplomat Vicky Bowman released from Myanmar prison, country’s media reports

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The UK’s former ambassador to Myanmar Vicky Bowman, who was jailed for allegedly breaching immigration laws, has reportedly been released.

Myanmar state TV said Ms Bowman and her husband, Burmese artist Htein Lin, were among a number of prisoners released “under amnesty”.

In September, the pair were sentenced to a year in prison for “failing to register as living at a different address” – a violation of the country’s Immigration Act.

Ms Bowman was the British ambassador to Myanmar between 2002 and 2006 and has more than three decades’ experience in the country.

At the time of their detention, she was running an organisation that promotes ethical business practices in Myanmar.

Burmese artist Htein Lin and his wife Vicky Bowman. shot n Htein Lin's studio. Pic: Sarah Lee/Guardian/Eyevine
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Vicky Bowman and her husband Htein Lin in his studio. Pic: Sarah Lee/Guardian/Eyevine

Government spokesperson Major General Zaw Min Tun told the Voice of Myanmar and Yangon Media Group that Japanese filmmaker Toru Kubota and Australian economist Sean Turnell, as well as an unidentified American, have also been released and deported.

Mr Turnell, 58, an associate professor in economics at Sydney’s Macquarie University, was arrested by security forces at a hotel in Yangon.

He was sentenced in September to three years in prison for violating the country’s official secrets law and immigration law.

Mr Kubota, a 26-year-old Tokyo-based documentary filmmaker, was arrested in July by plain clothes police in Yangon after taking images and videos of a small flash protest against the military takeover last year.

He was convicted last month of incitement for participating in the protest and other charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison.

The reported release of the trio is said to have come as part of a prisoner amnesty to mark the country’s National Victory Day.

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Aung San Suu Kyi

Myanmar’s ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi is still in jail in the country after being sentenced the same day as Ms Bowman to three more years in prison – adding to the 17 years she is already serving for a number of offences, including alleged election fraud.

Ms Suu Kyi’s party won the country’s 2020 general election in a landslide victory, but the military seized power from the elected government on 1 February 2021, saying it acted because of alleged widespread voter fraud.

Sky News has contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office for comment.

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