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APAC

Two Australians freed from house arrest in Myanmar

(Reuters) - 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 said on Sunday.

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 Feb. 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 two weeks.”

Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had provided support for the couple’s departure from Yangon on April 4.

“We welcome their release,” a representative of the department said in an e-mailed statement.

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 2,500 people have been detained since the coup, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners monitoring group.

Reporting by Matthew Tostevin; Additional reporting in Melbourne by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Frances Kerry and Stephen Coates

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