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UN Calls Burma's Detention of Aung San Suu Kyi 'Illegal'

A United Nations body has ruled that Burma's continued detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi is illegal under Burmese and international law.

An opinion reached by the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention says Burma is breaking its own law (1975 State Protection Law), which allows detention without charges for those who pose a risk to state security or public peace.

The opinion argues that Aung San Suu Kyi does not pose a threat to security, and notes that the law only allows renewed arrest orders for a maximum of five years. Aung San Suu Kyi's five-year period ended last May.

The U.N. group is calling for her immediate release.

News agencies published details of the ruling Monday after Aung San Suu Kyi's U.S.-based lawyer, Jared Genser, made a copy available.

Genser said it was the first time the group had ruled that her continued house arrest violates Burmese law.

Genser admitted that Burma's military government is not likely to heed the U.N.'s advice. The U.N. has been attempting for years to bring about political reform and dialogue between Aung San Suu Kyi and the military, but its efforts have not been successful.

Aung San Suu Kyi has spent 13 of the past 19 years in detention. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been under house arrest continuously since May of 2003.

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