RANGOON, Burma – Burma's ruling military junta considered releasing pro-democracy leader Aung San Syu Kyi from house arrest this week, but canceled the decision after an American stayed at her house in violation of the country's security law, a top police official said Tuesday.
Briefing reporters and diplomats Tuesday, Burma's Brig. Gen. Myint Thein said authorities were talking of releasing her Wednesday from nearly six years of house arrest on "humanitarian grounds and because she is the daughter of the country's founder Aung San."
But earlier this month, Thein said the "unexpected incident of the intrusion of the American happened."
Suu Kyi was arrested and has since been charged with violating conditions of her house arrest by sheltering John W. Yettaw at her home, communicating with him and providing him food. Yettaw, 53, swam across a lake to her residence earlier this month, but Suu Kyi's lawyers say she did not invite the man and asked him to leave.
Suu Kyi is widely expected to be found guilty, and faces up to five years in prison.
She pleaded not guilty Friday, but Burma's courts operate under the influence of the ruling military, and almost always deal harshly with political dissidents. Two women assistants who live with her, and the American, also pleaded not guilty to the same charge.
The charges against her are widely seen as a pretext for the government to keep her detained during polls it has scheduled for next year as the culmination of a "roadmap to democracy," which has been criticized as a fig leaf for continued military rule.