Actress who plays Suu Kyi in new film is deported by Burmese officials

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Actress Michelle Yeoh, who stars as Burma's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in a forthcoming film, has been deported from the country after being placed on a blacklist by its military rulers.

Yeoh, who has appeared in films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies, arrived at Rangoon's international airport last Wednesday but was refused entry and placed on the first available flight out of the country.

"I don't know what happened at the airport," Nyan Win, a lawyer for Ms Suu Kyi, said last night from Rangoon.

Yeoh met Ms Suu Kyi, known as The Lady by her supporters, last year after the democracy leader was released from house arrest after more than seven years of detention. "She came to Burma and she spent all day with The Lady," Nyan Win said, adding that it was a "good visit" and it was possible the actress was planning to meet with Ms Suu Kyi again this time.

But an unidentified Burmese official told the Agence France-Presse that immigration staff at the airport would have been alerted to watch out for Yeoh and stopped her when she landed on 22 June. "She did not have the chance to enter Myanmar [Burma] again," the official said. "She was deported straight away on the first flight after arriving at Yangon [Rangoon] International Airport. She's on the blacklist now."

There was no word from the authorities as to why Yeoh had been placed on the list of banned individuals, which is usually made up of journalists and democracy activists. The 48-year-old Malaysian actress presumably irked the generals by her decision to star in the movie, The Lady. The film, based on a screenplay by the British writer Rebecca Frayn and directed by Luc Besson, tells the story of Ms Suu Kyi and her relationship with Michael Aris, the British man she married after the couple met at Oxford. After returning to Burma in the late 1980s and becoming embroiled in the nascent democracy movement, Ms Suu Kyi took the wrenching decision to remain in Burma after she learned that her husband had terminal cancer and had been refused a visa to visit her in Rangoon.

Yeoh's deportation comes as Ms Suu Kyi prepares for a tour of Burma. In 2003 dozens of her supporters were killed after a similar tour was attacked by militias loyal to the junta.