British Burma activist freed

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The Independent Online

British human rights acticivst James Mawdsley is understood to have been freed from prison in Burma.

British human rights acticivst James Mawdsley is understood to have been freed from prison in Burma.

A British diplomat was in the border town Friday to meet with an English human rights activists when he is freed from a Myanmar prison, the British Embassy said.

Mawdsley, 27, was sentenced to 17 years jail in September 1999 after he sneaked into Myanmar, also known as Burma, to protest against the country's military junta.

He was charged with immigration offenses and violating a publications law by handing out pro-democracy leaflets.

Mawdsley's mother Diana Mawdsley is now in Yangon waiting for her son who has been serving his sentence in solitary confinement.

On Wednesday, the military government said it would release Mawdsley in consideration of "traditional friendly relations" with Britain, a country that Myanmar regularly lambasts for being critical of the junta's human rights record.

The military government said it had decided to deport Mawdsley after requests made by the British Foreign Office to Myanmar's ambassador in London.

Mawdsley, from Lancashire in northwest England, had been arrested in Myanmar twice before his sentencing last year.

In 1998, he served 99 days of a seven-year sentence. He was pardoned on condition he not return to the country. He also holds an Australian passport.

Last month, British consular officials reported that Mawdsley had been beaten by guards and had suffered a broken nose and two black eyes. The Myanmar government said he had injured himself accidentally in a scuffle with prison guards.

Last week, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Mawdsley was being held in jail unlawfully and appealed for the Myanmar regime to remedy the situation.

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