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Publisher Dunkley held in Insein Prison

Chiang Mai (Mizzima) – Ross Dunkley, the Australian founder and co-owner of the Myanmar Times, is being held in Burma’s  notorious Insein Prison on immigration charges after being arrested at his home in Rangoon on Friday, according to police.

The imprisoned Australian publisher Ross Dunkley, in white shirt, in a file photo taken in 2007 at Laisho Township during a media event in Burma publicising the capture of a large quantity of heroin. Dunkley, charged with an immigration offense, is being held in Insein Prison. Associates say that he is also involved in a dispute with a Burmese co-owner of the Myanmar Times.Details were sketchy on Saturday following his arrest. A lawyer involved in the case, Min Sein, said: ‘I was told he was arrested,  but I don’t know the details’.

Dunkley is known as an old fashioned risk-taking journalist who publishes newspapers in volatile regions, such as Burma and Cambodia, where he is also the publisher of the Phnom Penh Post.

A police officer at the Kamayut police station confirmed that Dunkley was being held in the notorious prison, which is home to many political prisoners and others who have found disfavor with the military government.

His case is registered under the Immigration Emergency Provisions Act section 13 (1), a police officer told Mizzima.

Section 13 (1) is frequently used by the Burmese regime to punish people who violated immigration laws. The maximum punishment is five years imprisonment. It is unclear why Dunkley, who reportedly recently returned from Thailand, was arrested, or what the specific charges against him might be.

Observers in Rangoon told Mizzima that the military authorities have taken a strong dislike to Dunkley, and the issue may be connected to an ownership dispute on the English-language weekly newspaper. The Irrawaddy magazine reported last month that Dunkley is embroiled in a power struggle with the Burmese co-owners of the newspaper.

Dunkley launched the Myanmar Times in 2000 with the blessings of Military Intelligence Chief Khin Nyunt. Sonny Shwe, his co-founder, is the son of a Khin Nyunt ally. Less than a year after Khin Nyunt’s purging from the military junta, Sonny Shwe was arrested and new Burmese co-owners took over his stake in the paper.

Sources said that currently a 49-percent stake of the Myanmar Consolidated Media Group Ltd. is held by Dunkley, and the remaining 51 percent is held by Dr. Tin Tun Oo, a member of the state-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party from Pazundaung Township.

The company also publishes ‘Crime’, a weekly magazine, and ‘Now’, a bi-weekly fashion magazine. The Myanmar Times is printed in English and Burmese editions.

Last Updated ( Monday, 14 February 2011 16:27 )  

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