Myanmar Junta Releases US Journalist After Ex-Diplomat’s Intervention
Myanmar’s junta released and deported the US journalist Danny Fenster on Monday, three days after sentencing him to 11 years for incitement, contacting an illegal organization and breaching visa regulations.
The regime’s spokesman confirmed the 37-year-old’s deportation after his release from Yangon’s Insein Prison.
The release followed the former US diplomat and ex-New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s meeting with the regime’s leader Min Aung Hlaing.
On Monday, the Richardson Center tweeted that Fenster’s release was secured following a private humanitarian visit by Richardson and negotiations with Min Aung Hlaing.
The tweet 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.”
It was posted with a picture of Fenster and Richardson at the airport in Yangon.
Fenster, the managing editor of the online news site Frontier Myanmar, was arrested on May 24 at Yangon’s airport shortly while boarding a flight to Malaysia. He was held in Insein.
“We are relieved that Danny is finally out of prison – somewhere he never should have been in the first place,” said Frontier editor-in-chief Thomas Kean.
Before working for Frontier Myanmar, Fenster was with Myanmar Now after joining The Irrawaddy for a few months.
On Friday, the US State Department condemned the sentence as an unjust conviction of an innocent person.
Fenster is the third foreign journalist to be detained by the junta. Two freelancers, Robert Bociaga from Poland and Yuki Kitazumi from Japan, were detained before Fenster’s arrest. Both were later freed and deported.
Since the military takeover, the regime has targeted journalists with arrests, lawsuits, raids on newsrooms and violence in an attempt to suppress coverage of the junta’s lethal crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters.
Around 100 journalists have been detained by the regime since the coup. Around 50 of them remain in prison.