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Thai Arms Dealer Involved in Plot to Kill Myanmar’s U.N. Ambassador

Thai arms dealer allegedly hired man to plan attack or kill him, say federal prosecutors

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U.N. Ambassador,New York, Thai Arms Dealer Involved in Plot to Kill Myanmar's U.N. Ambassador

Two Myanmar men have been arrested in New York for plotting with an arms dealer in Thailand to kill or injure Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador, U.S. authorities said on Friday.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, on Saturday condemned a thwarted plot to attack Myanmar’s U.N. ambassador in New York, saying it fits a “disturbing pattern” of authoritarian leaders and their supporters seeking to persecute opponents around the world.

Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents Myanmar’s elected civilian government which was overthrown by the military in February, told Reuters that a threat had been made against him and U.S. authorities had stepped up his security.

After being contacted by an arms dealer in Thailand, one of the men, Phyo Hein Htut, agreed to “hire attackers” to injure ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun in an effort to force him to step down, according to court documents.

If the ambassador, whom Myanmar’s military has repeatedly tried to replace, refused to resign, the attackers were to kill him, prosecutors told the New York Times.

Htut, 28, and Ye Hein Zaw, 20, who prosecutors say served as intermediaries and made payments to fund the attack, each face a charge of conspiracy to assault and make a violent attack upon a foreign official. Neither entered pleas Friday as they made initial court appearances in White Plains, New York, on their criminal complaints.

If convicted, Htut and Zaw could each serve up to five years in prison.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said on Saturday that the threat “fits a disturbing pattern of authoritarian leaders and their supporters reaching across the globe … to persecute and repress journalists, activists, and others who dare speak or stand against them.”

Thomas-Greenfield cited Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, a Belarusian athlete who refused to return home from the Tokyo Olympics and sought refuge in Poland, and a thwarted plot by several Iranians to kidnap a New York journalist and rights activist who was critical of Iran.

“These are only the most recent acts of transnational repression, and they must be met with the condemnation of the world and with full and certain accountability,” Thomas-Greenfield said in a statement.

 

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