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Burmese Court Releases Australian Publisher on Bail

Ross Dunkley_founder and editor of the Myanmar Times_is escorted by a Myanmar policeman for a hearing at the Kamayut township court (file)

A Burmese court has released an Australian newspaper publisher on bail, six weeks after authorities detained him on charges of drugging a Burmese woman and violating immigration laws.

The court in Rangoon said it freed Ross Dunkley Tuesday because he requires medical treatment for a heart condition, and because he is considered to be a respectable person as the co-founder of the English-language Myanmar Times. The newspaper paid Dunkley's bail, which the court set at about $10,000.

Dunkley had been detained in Rangoon's notorious Insein prison since his arrest on February 10 on suspicion of drugging and physically abusing a 29-year-old Burmese woman and violating immigration laws by committing an illegal act.

Dunkley on Tuesday told the French news agency, AFP, that he will stay in Burma to fight the charges, which he denies.

Associates of the publisher say he is the victim of an effort by Burmese authorities to seize control of the Myanmar Times. The Australian citizen holds a 49 percent stake in the paper.

Dunkley's Burmese business partner, Tin Htun Oo, is currently in charge of the newspaper and told VOA earlier this month that he has no dispute with the Australian.