Jailed U.S. journalist in court again after likely COVID-19 bout at Insein Prison

An American journalist held in Myanmar attended a third virtual court hearing yesterday from prison and says he received no treatment for what was likely COVID-19.

The family of Danny Fenster said he received no medical attention despite showing coronavirus symptoms since last week. He was not among journalists freed last month by the junta – including U.S. citizen Nathan Maung – and faces up to three years in prison if convicted of incitement.

“He didn’t have any treatment. We heard he hasn’t been tested and it’s disappointing. We are very worried,” his brother, Bryan Fenster, told CNBC on Wednesday.

Fenster was arrested in late May about to depart Yangon International Airport for Malaysia and ultimately the United States. Since then, the 37-year-old Detroit native has been held at Yangon’s notorious Insein Prison.

Though Fenster was the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar at the time of his arrest, the authorities accused him of inciting violence during his previous tenure at Myanmar Now. He has been accused under a section of the penal code that’s been used to jail journalists since the Feb. 1 coup d’etat. His next hearing is in two weeks.

In Myanmar’s prisons, detainees caught between pandemic and coup

With his health a consideration, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said the surge of COVID-19 in Myanmar was “worrying” and called for Fenster’s release.

On Thursday, Myanmar recorded 4,188 infections and 165 deaths, though experts have warned the virus’ actual toll is likely many times higher than disclosed.

As of today, more than 41,000 people had signed an online petition written by Fenster’s mother for U.S. President Joe Biden to secure Danny’s immediate release from Myanmar.

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