I am saddened to learn that U Gambira, a former monk and leader of the 2007 anti-junta uprising has been sentenced by a Myanmar court on Tuesday for six months with hard labor on immigration charges. I hope that he is released immediately.
A member of his defense team said that he was likely to be released soon because of time already served.
The sentence came amid widespread excitement that has followed the release and dropping of charges against more than 100 political prisoners since Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy took power earlier this month.
Nyi Nyi Lwin, better known as Gambira, was arrested in January for illegally entering Myanmar from neighboring Thailand. He has been held without bail since his arrest at a prison in Mandalay, Myanmar's second largest city.
Gambira was freed from prison during a 2012 general amnesty, a year after the junta handed power to a semi-civilian government, following 49 years of direct rule of the Southeast Asian nation.
Since his release, Gambira has divided his time between Myanmar and Thailand, but Myanmar authorities have re-arrested him several times, in what his family and rights groups have described as continued harassment for his criticism of the government.
Gambira's prison term of 63 years for his role in the protest turned him into one of Myanmar's most prominent political prisoners. Members of his family were also arrested.
While in detention, Gambira was repeatedly beaten and tortured, he and rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said.