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Two men arrested in the US for alleged conspiracy to kill the UN ambassador in Myanmar

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The duo is accused of conspiring with one arms dealer in Thailand who sells weapons to the Myanmar army, for “seriously injuring or killing” the ambassador “in a planned attack on a foreign official that would take place on U.S. soil,” said Audrey Strauss, U.S. prosecutor for the southern district of New York, in a statement.
Myanmar military he seized power in a coup on 1 February and Myanmar Ambassador Kyaw Moe Tun has been outspoken against his looting of the civil government and his deadly suppression of protests. The United Nations has not recognized the military junta and, in its position as UN ambassador, Kyaw Moe Tun continues to represent the ousted civilian government, which operates underground.

Kyaw Moe Tun told CNN he was informed of the alleged plot on Tuesday and reported it to the U.S. mission and law enforcement, believing it was a credible threat. He said the FBI and New York City police now provide him with 24-hour security.

Suspicious Phyo Hein Htut, 28 i Ye Hein Zaw, A 20-year-old living in New York, was charged with conspiracy to assault and commit a violent attack on a foreign official, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
Kyaw Moe Tun, Myanmar Ambassador to the United Nations, in New York on 28 June.
According to the legal complaintPhyo Hein Htut told the FBI that the arms dealer had contacted him via Facebook and FaceTime, allegedly offering him cash to hire attackers to injure the ambassador in an attempt to force him to leave the charge.

If Kyaw Moe Tun did not leave office, the arms dealer allegedly proposed that the attackers kill him by manipulating the tires of the ambassador’s car so that it would crash while he was inside, according to the complaint.

After allegedly agreeing to the plan, Ye Hein Zaw is accused of transferring about $ 4,000 to Phyo Hein Htut as an advance payment. Later, during a recorded phone conversation, the couple allegedly discussed how the attackers would need an additional $ 1,000 payment to carry out the attack and “finish” the ambassador, according to the complaint.

A volunteer security guard from the UN mission told the FBI that Phyo Hein Htut had addressed him about the alleged plot, saying he had been in contact with the arms dealer in Thailand for allegedly hiring a ” assassin to kill or injure the ambassador “.

The alleged conspiracy took place between July and August 5 and the planned attack would take place in Westchester County, New York, where the ambassador lives, according to the complaint.

“As alleged in today’s federal charges, these defendants came across borders and oceans in designing a violent plot against an international leader on U.S. soil,” the NYPD commissioner said. , Dermot Shea, in a statement.

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“But our NYPD investigators and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York worked tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to bring them to justice before any action could be taken. mal “.

On February 27, Kyaw Moe Tun was fired as UN ambassador to Myanmar after making a passionate speech at the United Nations, which urged the use of “any means necessary” to stop the military coup in his country. He refused to give up a decision that received UN support.

When asked if he believed the orders for the alleged attack came from the Myanmar military junta, the ambassador told CNN that he could not speculate on who was behind the plot, but that the incident would not postpone him from the plot. his work.

“Of course, what happened is disturbing, but my day-to-day has not been affected,” Kyaw Moe Tun said. “I will continue what I have to do and this incident will not deter what I am doing for the country and for the people.”

Kyaw Moe Tun thanked the U.S. government, the State Department, and law enforcement agencies for their “support, kind assistance” and “professionalism” in responding to the incident.

“They saved my life and saved me any harm from coming to me,” he said.

Since taking power, Myanmar security forces have killed at least 948 people and detained more than 7,000, according to the defense group’s political prisoner assistance association, including doctors battling a severe Covid outbreak. , protesters, opposition figures, teachers and children. Fight between soldiers and Myanmar local militia groups, as well as ethnic armed organizations, have increased in recent months.

CNN’s Caitlin Hu contributed.

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