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Myanmar frees Australian couple from house arrest


An Australian couple has been freed from house arrest in Myanmar and allowed to leave the country without charge, one of the two business consultants says.

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Christa Avery and her husband Matthew O’Kane were refused permission to leave Myanmar last month when they were about to board a flight home.

The country has been in turmoil since a military coup on February 1 that ousted elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

“I am, of course, incredibly relieved to have been released and to be on my way home with my husband Matt,” Avery said in a statement.

“Even though I knew that I had done nothing wrong, it was very stressful being held under house arrest for 2 weeks.”

Another Australian, Sean Turnell, an economic adviser to Suu Kyi, has been detained since shortly after the army seized power and is in prison.

“I hope that even if Sean cannot be released very soon, he can, at least, be moved to house arrest for his physical, mental and emotional wellbeing,” Avery said.

Authorities have said Turnell is under investigation, but no charge has been announced against him.

A lawyer for Suu Kyi said last week that he understood Turnell faced charges under the Official Secrets Act, but no charges have been confirmed.

More than 2500 people have been detained since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade provided consular assistance to Ms Avery and Mr O’Kane during their detention.

The department also supported their departure from Yangon.

“We welcome their release,” a spokesman told AAP.

“Due to our privacy obligations we will not provide further detail.”

Consular assistance generally involves welfare checks, liaising with local authorities, providing lists of local lawyers and helping communicate with family members or close contacts.

Embassy staff cannot provide legal advice, intervene in legal cases or get Australians out of prison.

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