Jailed US journalist Danny Fenster freed and deported from Myanmar

Photo credit: Al Jazeera News

Guwahati: Jailed for 11 years in Myanmar, the American journalist was released on Monday and was deported out of the south-east Asian country. Danny Fenster is on a flight out of Myanmar, said the authority of a digital media outlet named Frontier Myanmar, where he is working as an editor. There is no available information if Danny was leaving for his home country (USA).

The young and energetic journalist was arrested on  24 May 2021 from Yangon International Airport as he was preparing to leave Myanmar for visiting his family in Detroit, Michigan. Since then, he was imprisoned in Insein jail of Yangon, the former capital of Myanmar. The scribe, who earlier worked for Myanmar Now- now banned by the military regime- was repeatedly denied his bail.

The military court inside the infamous prison, which otherwise enjoys little liberty in the military ruled nation, pronounced the verdict on 12 November to imprison Danny for 11 years against various charges of visa breaches, defaming the Myanmar military personnel and also joining hands with unlawful elements. Conspiracy was seemingly hatched against Danny to keep him inside bars for whole life.

Danny was the third foreign journalist to be arrested by the military junta. Earlier the military rulers detained independent scribes Robert Bociaga from Poland and Yuki Kitazumi from Japan, who were later released and subsequently deported from Myanmar. The US journalist was taken to the national capital Naypietaw from Yangon on 15 November for deportation.

Various international organizations strongly criticized the military junta for fraudulently trying to detain Danny and demanded his immediate and unconditional release. The US State Department in a statement issued from Washington commented that Danny’s sentence is ‘an unjust conviction of an innocent person’. While condemning the decision, Washington asserted it would continue  working for Danny’s release.

Geneva-based Press Emblem Campaign (PEC), the global media safety and rights body, also expressed its dismay over the imprisonment of Danny Fenster by the military court and demanded his immediate release. Blaise Lempen, general-secretary of PEC commented that The Min Aung Hlaing led military regime was trying its best to destroy the free press in Myanmar. They even dared to diktat the foreign media outlets to describe the military government properly, he added.

Speaking to PEC’s southeast  Asia representative Nava Thakuria, a senior Myanmar journalist claimed that the military generals after grabbing political power on 1 February last deposing Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy government, had imprisoned over 125 journalists, who supported the anti-junta movements across Myanmar. Nearly 50 among them are still behind bars, added the journalist who wanted anonymity.

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