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Friday, December 3, 2021

Myanmar charges US journalist with terrorism


Military-ruled Myanmar has charged an American journalist with sedition and terrorism, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, his lawyer says.

Danny Fenster, 37, was detained at Yangon International Airport in May while working as the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar.

Since the February coup, dozens of local journalists have been detained.

Mr. Fenster’s trial on these charges is set to begin on November 16th.

He is already on trial for allegedly inciting dissent against the military, engaging in illegal association, and violating immigration law.

The new charges, however, are the most serious, carrying a maximum sentence of life in prison. It is unclear what Mr. Fenster is accused of.

“He has become quite thin,” Than Zaw Aung, his lawyer, told the AFP news agency.

Thousands of people were detained earlier this year during bloody protests after military leaders took power.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, at least 1,178 people were killed and 7,355 were arrested, charged, or sentenced during the crackdown on dissent that followed Aung San Suu Kyi’s ouster from power.

Since then, the military has stepped up its crackdown on the country’s independent media, arresting dozens of journalists.

Mr Fenster was not among the hundreds of political prisoners released by the military government last month.

The US has urged Myanmar’s junta to release Mr Fenster immediately.

“The profoundly unjust nature of Danny’s detention is clear to all,” a State Department spokesperson told AFP.

“The regime should be prudent and release him now… His continued detention is unjustified. Journalism is not a felony.”

“We are as heartbroken about these charges as we have been about the other charges brought against Danny,” his brother Bryan Fenster said in a message to Reuters.

Frontier Myanmar is an English-language news magazine and website based in Yangon that bills itself as independent and has extensively covered the military coup.

Mr Fenster, who had been working for Frontier Myanmar for about a year, was detained as he prepared to leave the country to visit his family in May. Since then, he has been imprisoned in Yangon’s notorious Insein prison.

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