Family of Australian detained in Myanmar urges release

·2-min read
Sean Turnell, the economic adviser to Myanmar's elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi, is seen at the Milken Institute 2017 Asia Summit in Singapore, in this September 30, 2017 handout photograph

(Reuters) - The family of an Australian adviser to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi detained after a military coup overthrew her government called for his release on Monday, saying he had done nothing wrong.

The Australian foreign ministry said it was seeking access to Sean Turnell, an academic and economic expert held after the army seized power last Monday and arrested Suu Kyi and her government.

"He is a member of our family and a well-educated academic who did no wrong," said Ha Vu, Turnell’s wife, in a statement.

Turnell said on Saturday he was being detained, the first known arrest of a foreign national since the coup.

Australia - which summoned Myanmar’s ambassador over the detention - is seeking access to Turnell, who is believed to be in a police facility, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said.

A source close to Turnell who asked not to be named said he had been to the police station where he was originally detained and was told he had been moved to Insein prison in Yangon. But when he went to the prison to deliver a care package, officers said he was not there.

"We all know that wherever he is now he will be worried," Vu said in the statement.

"He worked for Myanmar by using his knowledge of economic from 20 years. He is someone who brings job opportunities and jobs to Myanmar people," she said.

Turnell told Reuters on Saturday he expected to be charged following his detention.

"I guess you will soon hear of it, but I am being detained," Turnell said. "Being charged with something, but not sure what. I am fine and strong, and not guilty of anything," he said.

(Reporting by Poppy Elena McPherson; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Angus MacSwan)