American journalist released in Myanmar

An American journalist who last week was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Myanmar has been freed, according to a new report. 

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson told The Associated Press that Danny Fenster, an editor at the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was released on Monday.

“This is the day that you hope will come when you do this work,” Richardson said, according to the AP. “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.”

Fenster was convicted by the military government in Myanmar of incitement for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating visa regulations, among other charges. 

The U.S. State Department called the jailing of Fenster “profoundly unjust,” and had urged officials in the country to release him. 

Fenster’s release was granted after Richardson traveled to the country to hold face-to-face negotiations, the AP noted. 

“Danny is one of many journalists in Myanmar who have been unjustly arrested simply for doing their job since the February coup,” Frontier Myanmar Editor-in-Chief Thomas Kean said in a statement to the news service following news of Fenster’s release. 

Fenster was the first foreign journalist to be convicted of a serious crime in Myanmar since the military seized power in the country in February, The Hill previously reported.

More than 100 journalists, media officials or publishers have been detained by military leaders, according to the AP, which cited U.N. data.

In a statement issued on Monday, Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and vice chairman of its Subcommittee on Asia, celebrated Fenster’s release. 

“When Danny cleared Burmese airspace and we knew he was free, this was probably the happiest moment of my time in Congress. I’d like to thank Governor Bill Richardson; our incredible diplomats in Burma, Ambassador Tom Vajda; Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Ambassador Roger Carstens and his small but mighty team; the State Department; and especially Danny’s family: his parents Buddy and Rose, and his brother Bryan; his extended family who became an intelligence and communications whirlwind; and the uncountable people in Michigan and beyond who spoke to me and told the world every single day that Danny was innocent and must be released. At last, we are bringing Danny home!”

–Updated at 10:39 a.m.

Tags Andy Levin Asia Danny Fenster Journalism Myanmar

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