Released Myanmar prisoner Philip Blackwood lands in NZ

Philip Blackwood (3 News)
Philip Blackwood (3 News)

Kiwi Philip Blackwood, who was released from a Myanmar prison having been charged with insulting Buddha, has touched down in New Zealand.

The 33-year-old has arrived back in the country after being released from prison after a year as part of the Myanmar Presidential Amnesty list.

He was met in Auckland by his father, having travelled from Myanmar's capital Yangon to Bangkok, then Auckland before a domestic flight to Wellington.

Blackwood embraced his father with a long-awaited hug. He appeared thin, with an unruly beard and grown-out hair.

He said he was blown away by the support he recieved while in prison, including letters from people he'd never met.

Amnesty International, which lobbied to have Blackwood released, says it is delighted he has returned home.

"He should never have been detained in the first place or robbed of the time with his young family," a spokesperson says. 

It says it is continuing to campaign for 100 other prisoners in Myanmar on similar "farcical" charges. 

The charges arose from a promotional poster on Facebook in 2014 in which Buddha was shown wearing headphones.

Blackwood was found guilty of insulting religion and was sentenced to two-and-a-half years' hard labour.

He, along with bar owner Tun Thurein, 40, and manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin, 26, were charged with breaching the Religion Act.

Blackwood says he's not angry about the situation, saying he understood religion is seen differently in Myanmar.

He says the poster idea was a friend's and he took the image down as soon as he realised it was offensive.

3 News