The federal government said it continues to make the case for the release of Australian Sean Turnell ahead of his expected trial in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw this week.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government is urging Myanmar to hold the trial proceedings in a transparent and fair manner.
“I hope the process is a fair and open trial,” Senator Payne told ABC’s Insiders program on Sunday.
“However, we do believe Professor Turnell is arbitrarily detained and we have been consistently seeking his release since he was detained some months ago now.”
The economic adviser to deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi was detained about four months ago.
MRTV has previously quoted the junta leader as alleging Professor Turnell had tried to flee the country, and “secret state financial information was found through him”.
Hundreds of academics have rallied around Professor Turnell, earlier this year describing the well-known academic as the “nicest human you will ever meet”, and calling for his immediate release from “unjustified” detention.
“He’s just a lovely man, there is no possible reason why he should be detained. He would never do anything wrong in any circumstance,” Professor Susan Harris Rimmer told SBS News in February.
Senator Payne said consular officials have had “important consular access” and communications with Professor Turnell ahead of his trial and his family have been able to communicate with him.
She said Australian officials continue to press the case for his release.
Ms Suu Kyi’s trial started earlier this month behind closed doors. Ms Suu Kyi, Professor Turnell and three ministers from her government have been charged under Myanmar’s colonial-era secrets act.
Myanmar’s Foreign Ministry recently rejected a UN General Assembly resolution which on Friday called for the country’s armed forces to immediately and unconditionally release Ms Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other officials and politicians detained after the coup.