Australian professor Sean Turnell has been released from a Myanmar prison

Turnell was arrested after a military coup and has been detained for 650 days.
Australian professor Sean Turnell has been released from a Myanmar prison

Australian Professor Sean Turnell has been released from prison in Myanmar after 650 days.

Professor Turnell was arrested after a military coup in Myanmar in February 2021.

The Australian Government has confirmed Turnell has now left Myanmar and landed in Melbourne.


Turnell is an honorary professor of economics at Macquarie University in Sydney.

He is an expert on Myanmar’s economy, and was working as an adviser for Myanmar’s leader Aung San Suu Kyi before she was overthrown in a military coup in February 2021.

After the coup, Turnell was arrested and imprisoned along with other advisers. He was released this week after lengthy lobbying by the Australian Government.

Australian Government response

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who spoke to Turnell by phone, said he was in “very good spirits” but had been through a “hard time”.

“Clearly, [he] has lost weight,” Albanese said. “650 days, and he was clearly counting them… can have a physical toll, but it can have other health tolls as well… we need to give him the space to recover.”

Turnell’s plane landed in Melbourne this morning.

Albanese said Turnell asked him to pass on that “people have been wonderful” in pushing for his release.

The Australian Embassy in Myanmar sent Turnell food hampers throughout his detention. Turnell told Albanese he kept the bags the food came in, which had the Australian crest on them, and displayed them in his cell “so that he could keep that optimism… the Australian Crest, of course, with the kangaroo and emu that don’t go backwards… it was very important for him.”

Become smarter in three minutes

Get the daily email that makes reading the news actually enjoyable. Stay informed, for free.

Be the smart friend in your group chat

Join thousands of young Aussies and get our 5 min daily newsletter on what matters in your world.

It’s easy. It’s trustworthy. It’s free.