US journalist Danny Fenster has been released from prison in Myanmar after he was sentenced to 11 years in jail by a military court three days ago. The former US ambassador to the UN Bill Richardson said Fenster had been released and handed over to him in Myanmar and would be soon on his way home via Qatar. Mr. Richardson said he negotiated the journalist’s release during a recent visit to Myanmar when he held face-to-face meetings with the military leader who ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
A publisher of the Frontier Myanmar where Mr. Fenster used to work earlier also confirmed the news. Great news, I heard @DannyFenster is out, Sonny Swe, the publisher of Frontier Myanmar tweeted. Mr. Fenster who was the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar was sentenced to 11 years in jail on Friday after he was charged for spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations, and violating visa regulations.
The 37-year-old had been languishing in jail for the last six months after he was arrested at Yangon international airport in May following a military coup in February. Mr. Fenster is one of the several journalists jailed in Myanmar for charges related to their news coverage. Mr. Fenster’s sentencing was the harshest punishment among the seven journalists convicted since the military took power. It triggered outrage and the US justice department in a statement said it was an unjust conviction of an innocent person.
Myanmar’s military leaders seized power in February after suffering a massive election defeat at the hands of the ruling National League of Democracy. They said they had been forced into the move by widespread vote fraud although the country’s election commission said there was no evidence to support such claims. Mass civilian protests rose up across the country and were brutally suppressed by the military. Since then, at least 1,260 people have been killed and 7,251 are under detention in a crackdown on dissent, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. Around 80 local journalists are known to have been detained for their reporting so far. According to the AAPP, 50 of them are still in detention and half have been prosecuted.