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US Man Heads Home After Release from Burma Prison


An American man who was imprisoned in Burma for making an unauthorized visit to the lakeside home of democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is heading home Wednesday on a flight out of Thailand.

American John Yettaw was sentenced last week to seven years hard labor for his visit, but U.S. Democratic Senator Jim Webb flew to Burma and secured his release on Sunday. Yettaw underwent two days of health checks in Bangkok before boarding a plane to go back to the United States.

Burma's state-run media said Webb's visit was a success for both sides that could improve the tense relations between the two countries.

A commentary in The New Light of Myanmar newspaper Tuesday described the visit as "the first step towards marching to a 1,000 mile destination."

Webb said after leaving Burma with Yettaw on Sunday that he too hoped his visit would lead to a new approach in U.S.-Burma ties, including a possible loosening of economic sanctions.

Webb met with military leader Than Shwe during his trip and unsuccessfully called for the release of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was sentenced to another 18 months of house arrest in the Yettaw incident.

Thailand's Foreign Ministry issued a statement Tuesday welcoming the release of the American and wishing Burma would also grant amnesty and full freedom to Aung San Suu Kyi.

The statement added that Thailand viewed such leniency on the part of Burma, based on a humanitarian reason, as a positive development.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.

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