Detained Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi said a government minister's comment that she would be freed in November could be contempt of court as she appeals her sentence.
Home Minister Major General Maung Oo told a January 21 meeting of local officials the 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner would be released in November, a month after many observers expect the country to hold its first parliamentary elections in two decades.
Suu Kyi said the minister should not have made the remark since the Supreme Court was processing her appeal, Nyan Win, one of her lawyers and a senior official from her National League for Democracy (NLD) party, told Reuters.
"She feels that his remark is tantamount to attempts to influence the legal trend and the court's decision," Nyan Win said, a day after meeting with Suu Kyi at her lakeside home.
Suu Kyi, detained for 15 of the past 21 years, was sentenced to a further 18 months of house arrest last August for harboring an American who swam uninvited to her home.
That incident took place in May 2009, just before an earlier period of house arrest was due to end. Taking into account the three months she spent in a prison guesthouse after the incident, her 18-month sentence would end in November.
The guilty verdict sparked an international outcry, with critics dismissing it as an attempt to keep her in detention ahead of elections.
The planned election would be the first since 1990, when Suu Kyi's party scored a landslide victory that the country's junta refused to recognize.
The military junta has not set a date for the poll but has promised the vote would be free, fair and inclusive.
But the plan is derided by opponents as a sham designed to let the army retain real power.
Some observers said the court's decision to hear Suu Kyi's appeal would make no difference and she would be released only if it suited the junta leaders.
The United States and others are reviewing policy toward the former Burma after years of sanctions and trade embargoes failed to get the junta to improve its human rights record or relax its grip on power.
Obama has offered Myanmar the prospect of better ties with Washington if it pursued democratic reform and freed over 2,000 political prisoners, including Suu Kyi.