Obama Calls for Release of Nobel Peace Laureate

President Obama condemned the conviction in Myanmar of Aung San Suu Kyi Tuesday, calling for her "immediate unconditional release."

Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace laureate, was sentenced to 18 months of house arrest Tuesday after allowing an uninvited American man to stay at her house in May.

In a statement released by the White House, Mr. Obama said the ruling violated "universal principles of human rights" and showed "continued disregard for UN Security Council statements."

"Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away," Mr. Obama said. "Today's unjust decision reminds us of the thousands of other political prisoners in Burma who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, have been denied their liberty because of their pursuit of a government that respects the will, rights, and aspirations of all Burmese citizens."

It is important to note that Mr. Obama referred to Myanmar by the pre-junta name of Burma. The name changed after a coup d'état in 1989. The United States does not officially recognize the name change and still refers to the country as Burma.

From the Congo Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called for Suu Kyi's release and said that "she should not have been tried and she should not have been convicted."

"The Burmese junta should immediately end its repression of so many in this country," Clinton said.

Suu Kyi is the Burmese Prime Minister-elect and has been under house arrest for 14 of the last 20 years following the military taking control of the government. She will have spent nearly 16 years under house arrest after her recent sentence is complete.

The sentence comes because 53-year-old American named John Yettaw allegedly used homemade flippers to swim to Suu Kyi's house. He was sentenced seven years hard labor for doing so. Time has background on Yettaw, who reportedly left a copy of the Book of Mormon at Suu Kyi's home and was allowed inside the home only after complaining of exhaustion and leg cramps.