TOPICS > Politics

With House Arrest Set to Expire, Suu Kyi Faces New Charges

BY Admin  May 14, 2009 at 12:05 PM EST

Aung San Suu Kyi in 2002; Getty Photo

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate has been charged with breaking the terms of her house arrest due to the uninvited visit of John William Yettaw.

She faces three to five years in prison while he faces up to six years.

Yettaw, 53, was arrested May 6 when he was caught swimming back across the lake after spending two days there. He has been charged with entering a restricted zone and with immigration violations. It was the second time he tried to see the pro-democracy leader at her home. The first was in 2008. His motives for trying to see the political leader are unknown. He is reportedly a student of clinical psychology from Falcon, Mo.

“Everyone is very angry with this wretched American. He is the cause of all these problems,” said Suu Kyi’s lawyer, Kyi Win, according to the Associated Press. “He’s a fool.”

A U.S. embassy spokesman said they were trying to find an English-speaking lawyer to represent Yettaw, and that he was in good health and good spirits.

“I know that John is harmless and not politically motivated in any way,” his stepson, Paul Nedrow, told the AP. “He did not want to cause Suu Kyi any trouble.”

Nedrow said he was concerned over Yettaw’s health because he is a diabetic and the ailment “could cause him to become disoriented and confused and be unable to make wise choices for himself.”

Suu Kyi’s trial is scheduled to start Monday at a special court at Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison, where she was arraigned Thursday. She is accused of breaking the terms of her detention by harboring the visitor for two days, even though he was uninvited and unwelcome.

Suu Kyi has been under house arrest for a total of 13 of the last 19 years. With a general election coming up next year, some see this as another ploy to prevent a pro-democracy opposition from making a real challenge to the ruling military junta. In late May 2008, during the aftermath of the devastating cyclone that hit Myanmar, the Junta announced they would keep Suu Kyi under house arrest for another year. The United Nations has said her detainment is illegal under Myanmar law, which says someone can only be held for five years before being released or facing trial.

Suffering from low blood pressure and dehydration, the 63-year old Su Kyi has not been well lately. “I am very concerned about Suu Kyi’s health, even though she said she is well,” her lawyer told reporters.