US Journalist Danny Fenster sentenced to 11 years in Myanmar prison

A military court in Myanmar has sentenced American journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison,

Fenster, 37, from Detroit, Michigan, was detained on May 24, denied bail and held in the Insein Prison in Yangon.

His lawyer, Than Zaw Aung said Fenster was found guilty of three charges brought against him by the Myanmar military, which seized control of the country in a coup on February 1.

The charges include unlawful association with an illegal group and incitement under section 505a of Myanmar’s Penal Code, which makes it a crime to publish or circulate comments that “cause fear” or spread “false news.”

Fenster is also accused of breaching his visa and received a fine equal to $50.

Military run the courts, so members of the public, reporters and embassy officials are barred from proceedings.

He is one of about 100 journalists detained since the military seized power on a February 1 coup.

Despite a mass prisoner release two weeks ago, 31 media workers remain behind bars, Reporting ASEAN has documented.

Former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson to Myanmar this week in hopes of securing Fenster’s release as part of  a personal humanitarian mission to discuss delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, medical supplies, and other public health needs.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the US remains “deeply concerned” about Fenster’s continued detention.

“Journalism is not a crime. The detention of Danny Fenster and other journalists constitutes an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression in Burma,” he said, using another name for Myanmar.

“We continue to press Burma’s military regime to release Danny immediately. We will do so until he safely returns home to his family.”

Danny Fenster in Poland, Photo courtesy of Bryan Fenster

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