Aung San Suu Kyi (photo, from bbc.co.uk), Myanmar’s opposition’s leader, will face trial for violating the conditions of her detention under house arrest, said her lawyers.
On May 18, she will stand trial, lawyer Hla Myo Myint told reporters.
After spending most of the past 19 years in her home in Rangoon, she was taken to a prison in order to hear the charges.
The charges arise from the apparently uninvited visit from a US man, John Yettaw, who will also be tried on immigration and security offences, the lawyer added.
John Yettaw, 53, was arrested on 6 May, after swimming across a lake to Ms Suu Kyi’s house and staying there secretly for two days. His motives remain unclear.
The charges are yet to be confirmed by the government.
The Burmese authorities have described the American as a Vietnam war veteran and resident of the state of Missouri.
Ms Suu Kyi’s lawyer has blamed him for her detention, calling him a “fool”.
Western countries concerned
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the Burmese military government was clearly looking for any pretext to extend Ms Suu Kyi’s detention. The US and EU also expressed concern, saying the move was not justified.
The generals think the elections due in 2010 will give them some legitimacy, according to BBC South-East Asia correspondent Jonathan Head.
“I am deeply disturbed that Aung San Suu Kyi may be charged with breaching the terms of her detention”, said Mr Brown in a statement.
“The Burmese regime is clearly intent on finding any pretext, no matter how tenuous, to extend her unlawful detention”, he said.
After the US State Department said Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked for more information on the developments, spokesman Ian Kelly was quoted as saying by AFP news agency : “We have seen this report, which is certainly troubling if true.”
The EU special envoy to Burma, Piero Fassino, said earlier that there was “no justification” for the detention.
On behalf of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean),one of the few groups that allow Burma as a member, Thailand’s prime minister also expressed concern.
“We would like to see positive steps being taken”, Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva told Reuters, adding that the group was “concerned” by the recent events.
‘Strong and stout heart’
After visiting her at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison (map, from bbc.co.uk), Ms Suu Kyi’s main lawyer, Kyi Win, told the BBC’s Newshour programme that she was physically well and her spirit was strong.
“From all appearances, she is quite well and of course she is a little thin, that’s all” said Kyi Win, Ms Suu Kyi’s main lawyer after visiting her at Yangon’s notorious Insein prison.
He said the 63-year-old Nobel Peace laureate asked him to tell her friends that she was physically well and even offered him encouragement, saying: “You have to have a very strong and stout heart.”
According to reports, Ms Suu Kyi was charged under the country’s Law Safeguarding the State from the Dangers of Subversive Elements.
The charges carry a three-to-five-year jail term. It would stretch her detention past its supposed expiry date this month and beyond the 2010 elections.
Her lawyers have vowed to contest the charges.
After Ms Suu Kyi’s party, the National League of Democracy (NLD), won in a general election in 1990, she was detained and spent much of the past 19 years under house arrest.
Although the NLD claimed earlier this month that Ms Suu Kyi was suffering from low blood pressure and dehydration, the government rejected an appeal for her to be freed.
After her doctor put her on an intravenous drip last week, her condition was said to have improved.