June 28, 2022

EUNews24

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Danny Fenster: US journalist freed from Myanmar jail

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US journalist Danny Fenster has been released from prison in Myanmar after he was sentenced to 11 years in jail by a military court three days ago.

His employer, English-language news site Frontier Myanmar, said he was on a flight out of Myanmar.

Junta spokesperson Major-Gen Zaw Min Tun confirmed to the BBC that he would be allowed to leave the country.

Fenster, who was Frontier’s managing editor, was detained in May as he was about to fly back to the US.

He is one of dozens of journalists, and thousands of people overall, to be held since a military coup in February.

Fenster had been convicted of breaching immigration law, unlawful association and encouraging dissent against the military.

Then last week he was hit with two additional charges of sedition and terrorism, which carry a maximum term of life imprisonment.

Fenster’s release appears to have been negotiated by former US ambassador and hostage negotiator Bill Richardson, who is in Myanmar.

Mr Richardson said in a statement that Fenster would fly home via Qatar.

“This is the day that you hope will come when you do this work,” he said. “We are so grateful that Danny will finally be able to reconnect with his loved ones, who have been advocating for him all this time, against immense odds.”

According to Frontier, Fenster had previously worked for Myanmar Now, an independent news site that has been critical of the military since the coup.

“The charges were all based on the allegation that he was working for banned media outlet Myanmar Now. Danny had resigned from Myanmar Now in July 2020 and joined Frontier the following month, so at the time of his arrest in May 2021 he had been working with Frontier for more than nine months,” said the news site.

“There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny of these charges.”

In a statement before the sentencing, the US state department commented that “the profoundly unjust nature of Danny’s detention is plain for all the world to see. The regime should take the prudent step of releasing him now”.

Myanmar’s military leaders seized power in February after suffering a massive election defeat at the hands of the ruling National League of Democracy.

They said they had been forced into the move by widespread vote fraud, although the country’s election commission said there was no evidence to support such claims.

Mass civilian protests rose up across the country, and were brutally suppressed by the military.

Since then, at least 1,260 people have been killed and 7,251 are under detention in a crackdown on dissent, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

Around 80 local journalists are known to have been detained for their reporting so far. According to the AAPP, 50 of them are still in detention and half have been prosecuted.

*Source

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