Detained American journalist seen in first court appearance since arrest: Frontier

Danny Fenster, managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, was arrested Monday at Yangon International Airport.
Danny Fenster, managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, was arrested Monday at Yangon International Airport.

Frontier Myanmar’s managing editor Danny Fenster appeared yesterday in a special court in Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison where he was charged with incitement under section 505(a), according to a statement released by Frontier. He faces up to three years in prison if convicted.

Fenster’s next court appearance is scheduled in two weeks on June 1. It was not immediately clear why he was being charged and no evidence was presented in court.

Thirty-seven-year- old Danny Fenster was arrested May 24 at Yangon International Airport while he was on his way to visit his family in the United States.

“We are shocked and frustrated that he has been detained for no apparent reason, and are concerned for his well-being. We are doing what we can to support him, as well as his family and friends, until he is freed,” Frontier said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we know that Danny has done nothing to warrant this 505(a) charge. We condemn his detention and demand his immediate and unconditional release.”

Rights organizations, media organizations, and his family have called for Danny’s immediate and unconditional release.

“This unlawful restriction of a foreign journalist’s freedom of movement is the latest grave threat to press freedom in Myanmar,” Shawn Crispin, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ senior Southeast Asia representative, said in a statement.

In a tweet, Bryan Fenster, the journalist’s brother, revealed that both the US embassy and their family have not been able to contact Danny. He also called for his brother’s immediate release.

US citizen and Kamayut Media’s editor-at-large Nathan Maung was released Monday after he was detained for a little over a month. CNN reported that Maung and fellow journalist Hanthar Nyein were subjected to physical and mental torture while detained in Insein Prison, a notorious prison for its inhumane treatment of political prisoners.

Since Feb. 1, Myanmar security forces have targeted journalists with arrest warrants, nighttime raids, unlawful arrests, beatings and torture. Multiple outlets were also stripped of their media licenses. At least 50 journalists remain behind bars in Myanmar while some operate in hiding. 

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