by H. Haverstock, The Chicago Times
November 12, 2021
NAYPYITAW– A court in military-ruled Myanmar sentenced U.S. journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years of hard labor on Friday, the maximum penalty under three charges.
On May 24, Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport as he prepared to board a flight to Detroit to see his family.
Fenster’s sentence is considered the cruelest punishment yet meted out to the seven journalists convicted since the military deposed Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government in February. Many believe the harsh penalty is an obvious retaliation to sanctions imposed by the US and several other Western countries.
Fenster, the managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, is still facing additional terrorism and treason charges that could land him in prison for life. According to Fenster’s lawyer Than Zaw Aung, the court found Fenster guilty on Friday of “spreading” false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations, and violating visa regulations. Fenster’s defense team has yet to decide whether to appeal.
The military government has repressed freedom of the press and speech, shutting down virtually all press outlets and arresting approximately 120 journalists. Some closed media outlets have continued to operate without a license, publishing online while their employees avoid arrest.
At least three other foreign journalists have been detained, including those from Japan, the United States, and Poland. Nathan Maung, an American, claimed he was tortured while in detention.