Myanmar's military junta sentences U.S. journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in jail, lawyer says
A court in Myanmar sentenced American journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison on Friday, after a secret trial conducted in Yangon's notorious Insein prison, according to his lawyer and employer, Frontier Myanmar magazine. Fenster, 37, was detained while waiting to board a U.S.-bound flight in May. He's the first foreign journalist sentenced since Myanmar's military seized control of the country in a coup in February.
The military quickly crushed peaceful protests to their toppling of Myanmar's fragile democracy, killing more than 1,200 civilians and arresting about 10,000 more, according to the United Nations and Assistance Association for Political Prisoners. The ruling junta also cracked down on press freedoms, shuttering nearly all critical media outlets and arresting some 100 journalists.
Fenster was convicted on three charges, including breaches of immigration laws and incitement for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information. Earlier this week, a separate court in Yangon filed more serious sedition and terrorism charges against Fenster, each punishable by up to 20 years in prison, according to his lawyer, Than Zaw Aung.
"There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny of these charges," said Thomas Kean, Frontier Myanmar's editor-in-chief. "Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated at this decision. We just want to see Danny released as soon as possible so he can go home to his family." The U.S. has also been pressing for Fenster's release. "The profoundly unjust nature of Danny's detention is plain for all the world to see," the State Department said before his sentencing. "The regime should take the prudent step of releasing him now."