A Burmese-American activist was unexpectedly released today, a day after his lawyer filed an appeal against a three-year prison sentence he received in February.
Relatives of Nyi Nyi Aung, 40, confirmed that he was freed from Rangoon’s Insein Prison at noon today.
His aunt, Khin Khin Shwe, told The Irrawaddy on Thursday: “Yes, he was released today at 12 pm. But we don’t know why he was freed.”
He will fly today to Washington, D.C., via Bangkok, she added.
Nyi Nyi Aung was arrested on Sept. 3, 2009, after arriving at Rangoon’s international airport on a flight from Bangkok.
Nyi Nyi Aung (aka Kyaw Zaw Lwin) was charged under Article 468 of the Penal Code for possessing a fake Burmese ID card and Article 24/1 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act for illegal possession of a foreign currency. He was also found guilty of failing to renounce his Burmese citizenship, according to his lawyer, Nyan Win.
He was also tortured while undergoing interrogation at Insein Prison and last December launched a hunger strike to protest against conditions for political prisoners.
Nyi Nyi Aung was a student activist during Burma’s 1988 pro-democracy uprising. He later fled to the Thai-Burmese border and was granted asylum in the US in 1993.
He returned to Burma last September to visit his mother, San San Tin, who is currently serving a five-year prison sentence for participating in anti-government demonstrations in September 2007. His cousin, Thet Thet Aung, is serving a 65-year prison sentence for her involvement in the same protests.