Kiwi released from Myanmar prison

Philip Blackwood (Reuters)
Philip Blackwood (Reuters)

A Kiwi jailed in Myanmar for insulting Buddha has been released from prison.

Philip Blackwood, 32, a dual New Zealand  British citizen, was sent to prison for two-and-a-half years of hard labour for insulting religion in March last year.

He was jailed for posting a picture of Buddha wearing headphones to promote a bar he managed.

Blackwood, a former Wellington resident, was found guilty of insulting religion.

The V Gastro bar used an image of the Buddha wearing headphones in an online poster to promote a cheap drinks night.

The poster, which appeared on the Facebook page of the newly opened Yangon bar, sparked outrage on social media in the predominantly Buddhist country.

Blackwood's father Brian has confirmed his son's release from prison and says he will be sent back to New Zealand in the next few days.

Mr Blackwood says he's pleased with the decision and says it has been an "excruciating time for the family".

However, he's still worried for his son's safety, saying "it's not over until it's over".

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) has confirmed Blackwood was on the Myanmar Presidential Amnesty list, allowing him to be released from prison.

"This is understandably of significant relief to his family," MFAT says.

The department has been providing assistance to Blackwood and his family since his arrest and detention.

The New Zealand Embassy in Myanmar is liaising with the relevant authorities over the amnesty release arrangements.

3 News / RadioLIVE