2 Myanmar men arrested in US for plotting to kill UN envoy

    Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2019. REUTERS

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    Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun addresses the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, March 11, 2019. REUTERS

    Two Myanmar nationals have been arrested in New York State for plotting to kill or injure Myanmar’s ambassador to the United Nations with a Thai arms dealer who sells weapons to the Burmese military, U.S. officials said Friday.

    Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun, who represents Myanmar’s ousted political government ousted by the military in February, told Reuters on Wednesday that he had been threatened and that US authorities had stepped up his security.

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    The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said Friday that Phyo Hein Htut, 28, and Ye Hein Zaw, 20, are charged with conspiracy to commit assault and violent assault on a foreign official. imposes a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

    The ambassador did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The Myanmar junta fired him in February, but he remains the country’s envoy to the UN because the United Nations has not recognized the junta.

    According to the legal complaint, Phyo Hein Htut told FBI investigators that the arms dealer in Thailand contacted him and offered him money to hire attackers to harm the ambassador and force him to resign.

    If the ambassador did not leave, then the arms dealer suggested that he be killed by the assailants, according to the complaint. Phyo Hein Htut and the arms dealer then agreed on a plan to manipulate the ambassador’s car to cause an accident.

    According to the complaint, Ye Hein Zaw contacted Phyo Hein Htut and made two money transfers totaling $ 4,000 in late July. Phyo Hein Htut told the FBI he had to receive an additional $ 1,000 after the attack.

    A volunteer security guard at the Myanmar mission to the UN told the FBI on Tuesday that Phyo Hein Htut had told him about the plan “to hire a killer to kill or injure the ambassador”.

    The complaint alleges that Ye Hein Zaw admitted to transferring money to Phyo Hein Htut, that he regularly sends money to others on behalf of the arms dealer, and recently booked a trip to the United States for two other individuals at the arms dealer’s request.

    “These defendants have crossed the border and the oceans to plot a violent conspiracy against an international leader on United States soil,” New York Police Commissioner Dermot See said in a statement.

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