Latest Claim in the Effort Against Aung San Suu Kyi: A Bag of Cash

The Myanmar construction tycoon spoke in a faltering monotone, blinking fast and gulping occasionally for air. He said that over the past several years he had handed a total of $550,000 to Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the civilian leader of Myanmar who was ousted in a military coup last month.

On two occasions, he had provided $100,000 and $150,000, the businessman said in a confessional statement broadcast on a military television network Wednesday night. In the English subtitles, the money had been handed over in a “black envelope.” In Burmese, the description had him presenting the money, meant to enhance his business ties, in a paper gift bag.

Either way, the envelope or gift bag would have been very large to hold that much cash.

The televised statement by U Maung Weik, a military crony who was once imprisoned for drug trafficking, appears to be the latest act in an intricately planned effort to impugn Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi.

Before elections in November, an online campaign amplified by pro-military groups raised a litany of unproven allegations against the civilian leader, who had shared power with the military for five years. Once her party won a landslide victory, military-linked forces stepped up their attacks on her, calling her corrupt and under the influence of foreigners.

a digital forensics investigation found.

Myanmar’s envoy to the United Nations, who gave an impassioned speech last month decrying the military’s seizure of power.

On Wednesday, the last of Myanmar’s major independent newspapers ceased publication. More than 30 journalists have been detained or pursued by authorities since the coup. The country, for decades under the military’s fist, is rapidly losing whatever democratic reforms had been introduced over the past few years.

various crimes that could see her imprisoned for years. The charges include esoteric crimes such as illegally importing foreign walkie-talkies and contravening coronavirus regulations.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi has not yet been charged in relation to Mr. Maung Weik’s accusations that he gave her money to better his business relationship with the civilian government. The military television network said that investigators were currently looking into the case.

25 pounds of gold and about $600,000. Mr. Maung Weik’s accusations of money transfers are separate from this figure.

If charges are brought in any such cases, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, 75, could face life imprisonment.

“I 100 percent believe that their accusations against Daw Aung San Suu Kyi are groundless,” said U Aung Kyi Nyunt, a spokesman for the National League for Democracy.

Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s popularity in Myanmar far outstrips that of the generals who have controlled the country for most of the past 60 years. She spent 15 years under house arrest and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her commitment to nonviolent resistance.

While her international reputation faded after she defended the military’s ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims, her star appeal endured at home. The National League for Democracy’s electoral performance last year bested its 2015 landslide. The military has called fraud on the polls.

Mr. Khin Maung Zaw, Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi’s lawyer, said that by silencing and imprisoning her the military regime risked burnishing her popularity further.

“They should not let Daw Aung San Suu Kyi change from a hero to a martyr,” he said. “If Daw Aung San Suu Kyi becomes a martyr, then the strength of the people will never be destroyed, and her martyrdom will become the people’s greatest strength.”

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