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She handled information because she was an information officer. She shared that information with her employers at the British embassy in Rangoon. As she herself noted yesterday: "I was just doing my job." The pay-off for doing her job was, however, brutally simple. The Burmese government jailed Nita Yin Yin May for three years - for subversion. As a former British prime minister once observed: it's a funny old world.

Yesterday, Mrs May's courage and suffering were honoured. Now a presenter and senior producer with the Burmese section of the BBC World Service in London, she received an honorary OBE from Robin Cook (above), who told her: "We're very proud of you."

Those present for yesterday's small ceremony in the ornate splendour of the Foreign Office included Mrs May's six-year-old son, Arkar. She was pregnant with Arkar when she was jailed. She said yesterday that her hope was "for some democratic change - but it can't come overnight."

Photograph: Nicola Kurtz