Tuesday, Dec. 08, 2009

John Yettaw

The Missouri native made headlines in May when he swam across a lake in Burma to the home of pro-democracy opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. John Yettaw later told the courts he was merely trying to save her after having a vision of her assassination. Because she let her uninvited guest rest for a couple of days before he tried to swim back, Suu Kyi — a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who has been imprisoned by Burma's military regime for 14 of the past 20 years — was sentenced to 18 additional months of house arrest. Yettaw became a magnet for international scorn and speculation. He was arrested during his return swim and sentenced to seven years in prison, where he served three months before Senator Jim Webb of Virginia negotiated an early release on humanitarian grounds. Webb defended Yettaw's "regrettable" actions, saying, "He was trying to help. He's not a mean-spirited human being." Upon landing at O'Hare International Airport in August, Yettaw told reporters, "If I had to do it again, I would do it a hundred times, a hundred times, to save her life."