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Obama Calls on Burmese Government to Free Aung San Suu Kyi

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Burma's military government to free Democratic opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from detention immediately and without conditions.

In a statement issued by the White House Tuesday, Mr. Obama condemned her continued house arrest. He said her current trial on charges of violating the terms of her house arrest is a "show trial based on spurious charges."

At that trial Tuesday, Aung San Suu Kyi acknowledged that she did not inform Burmese military authorities when an American intruder swam across a lake and arrived at her Rangoon home in the early morning hours of May 4. She said she allowed American John Yettaw "temporary shelter" until he left the next day.

It was this incident that prompted authorities to charge her with violating terms of her house arrest. In court, the Nobel Peace laureate asserted her innocence.

For the second time during the week-long trial, Burma's military authorities allowed foreign diplomats and journalists to attend the day's proceedings Tuesday.

The 63-year-old pro-democracy leader faces up to five years in jail if convicted. Two of her caretakers and Yettaw himself also are facing trial. Her lawyers say she asked him to leave, but allowed the American to stay overnight after he said he was too exhausted and ill to swim back.

Yettaw entered Burma on a tourist visa. He said he dreamt the opposition leader would be assassinated, and that he traveled to Burma to warn her.

Aung San Suu Kyi's trial has caused an international outcry.

President Obama said the proceedings cast serious doubt on Burma's willingness to be a responsible member of the international community.

Asian and European Union foreign ministers meeting in Vietnam issued a joint statement Tuesday that mentioned Aung San Suu Kyi. The ministers wrote that, in light of her trial, they are calling for the early release of all those under detention in Burma and for the lifting of government restrictions on political parties.

Several members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, have expressed grave concern about Aung San Suu Kyi's trial. A group of ASEAN lawmakers called for Burma's membership in the regional bloc to be suspended if she continues to be detained.

Critics say Burma's military leaders are using the trial as a pretext to keep the opposition leader under detention so she cannot participate in next year's elections. Her National League for Democracy won Burma's 1990 elections, but the military refused to relinquish power.

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