Myanmar’s military had “nothing to do” with an alleged plot to attack the country’s ambassador to the UN, who has defied the military and backed the pro-democracy movement, state media have said as the country’s foreign ministry called for his extradition.
Kyaw Moe Tun made headlines after the army’s February coup, brazenly disregarding its insistence that he no longer represents the country at the world body in New York.
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Last week United States prosecutors said they had charged two Myanmar citizens over an alleged plot to hire hitmen who would force him to resign or, if he refused, kill him.
“Myanmar has nothing to do with this incident,” the state-backed Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper said on Tuesday, in the military rulers’ first comments on the case.
“The said plot … happened among the residents inside the United States of America.”
Actions should be taken “in accordance with the law of the land”, it added.
On Saturday, US ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the plot fitted a “disturbing pattern” of authoritarian leaders and their supporters seeking to persecute opponents around the world.
She said the US stood in solidarity with Kyaw Moe Tun and commended him for “remarkable courage and bravery”.
But Myanmar’s foreign ministry said it “strongly rejects the statement” of Thomas-Greenfield.
Suspects Phyo Hein Htut, 28, and Ye Hein Zaw, 20, are being charged in a federal court on counts for which they could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors said Phyo Hein Htut had been in touch with an arms dealer in Thailand who had dealings with the military in Myanmar.
The arms dealer spoke to Phyo Hein Htut about hiring assailants for the plot, which involved sabotaging the ambassador’s car to force it to crash, the criminal complaint said.
Educators and residents in #Magwe Region’s Myaing Township drove their motorbikes in a convoy to show their opposition to the military caretaker government on Tuesday morning. (Photo: BEGSC-Myaing) #WhatsHappeningInMyanmar pic.twitter.com/5F7KPXzclp
— The Irrawaddy (Eng) (@IrrawaddyNews) August 10, 2021
More than 900 people have died in Myanmar as the military seeks to crush protests against the coup, according to a local monitoring group.
Kyaw Moe Tun has repeatedly called for international intervention to help end unrest and reinstate an elected, civilian government.
Last week he sent a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to report an alleged mass killings of 40 civilians by the military in the Sagaing area of northwestern Myanmar over several days in July.
The military regime has denied the accusations.
In its statement, the foreign ministry also accused Kyaw Moe Tun of “committing high treason” for working with the shadow National Unity Government.
It urged that US to act on its request to extradite Kyaw Moe Tun.
The news comes as protests continue in the country on Tuesday, with social media reporting pre-drawn strikes by students and young demonstrators in Mandalay area as well as in Kachin State.
The Irrawaddy website also reported protests in Magway region.