World

American journalist released from Myanmar jail only days after sentencing

Danny Fenster, an American journalist, who has been in Myanmar custody for months, has just been released to go home.

Fenster is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an independent online magazine. He traveled to Myanmar, where he was arrested and held in a prison for political criminals for the last six months.

On Friday, he was convicted on the charges of spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating visa regulations. He was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment, with potential for another 40 to be tacked on.

Bill Richardson, former New Mexico Governor and Secretary of Energy for Clinton in the ‘90s, has a history of working as a diplomat. He has traveled, on his own accord, to places like North Korea and Venezuela to negotiate the release of American prisoners. Most recently he visited Myanmar to work towards Fenster’s release. 

Myanmar’s military staged a coup in February, resulting in chaos throughout the country. A number of journalists, both from the country and from elsewhere, like Fenster, have been arrested on the grounds of publishing content that reflected negatively on the new government. Fenster was given the harshest punishment of any of them thus far.

Authorities agreed to release Fenster on the basis of humanitarianism while Richardson visited the country for a second time this month. Upon his release, Fenster said he was not withheld food or beaten, but was said to have looked frail.

“I feel great and am really happy to be on my way home. I’m incredibly happy for everything Bill has done,” Fenster said of Richardson. The two flew to Doha, Qatar from Myanmar and planned to return to the US afterward, where Fenster was reunited with his family.

ARTICLE: RITA VOGT

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: TAMPA BAY

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