Former job essential in case against American journalist in Myanmar


BANGKOK (AP) – An American journalist detained for nearly five months in military-controlled Burma is being prosecuted for an offense allegedly committed by a news service he had stopped working for more than six months earlier, his report said on Friday. lawyer.

Danny Fenster was arrested at Yangon International Airport on May 24 as he was about to board a flight to the Detroit area of ​​the United States to see his family. He is the editor-in-chief of Frontier Myanmar, an online news magazine based in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city.

Media groups and the US government demanded Fenster’s release. He is one of a hundred journalists detained since a military takeover on February 1 toppled the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. More than half have since been released, but the media remain under strict restrictions.

Fenster had worked until July last year as a reporter and editor for the Myanmar Now online news site, and joined Frontier Myanmar the following month.

As popular resistance to the military takeover grew, Myanmar Now, along with several other media outlets, had its license revoked in early March. He was banned from posting on any platform, but continued to operate clandestinely online.

Fenster’s attorney Than Zaw Aung said the judge at Friday’s preliminary hearing told his client that after his Myanmar Now license was revoked, he continued to publish articles about the activities of Fenster. organizations opposed to military takeover.

These groups – the Civil Disobedience Movement, the Committee Representing Pyidaungsu Hluttaw, and the National Unity Government – were all created after the military seized power and declared it illegal.

Contacting them and posting their comments is punishable by two to three years in prison under the Illegal Associations Act, with which Fenster was formally charged earlier this month. The judge said Fenster was wanted in connection with Myanmar Now’s activities, along with its editor, Ko Swe Win.

Fenster had previously been charged with sedition for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information. This offense is punishable by up to three years in prison.

Details of his case are scarce and court hearings at Insein Prison, where Fenster is imprisoned, are closed to the press and the public.

Military spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun said last month that “Danny Fenster did more than a journalist does.” He did not develop.

“It is disappointing that the prosecution continues to claim that Danny was working for Myanmar Now in March 2021, when in fact he had resigned seven months earlier to join Frontier,” Frontier editor-in-chief Thomas Kean said on Friday. Myanmar. text message.

“It underscores once again why he should never have been arrested in the first place, and why the charges should be dropped immediately so he can return home to his family.”

Lawyer Than Zaw Aung said the defense and prosecution have both submitted their arguments on whether to allow bail in the sedition case, with a decision expected in the next court session. October 27. He said Fenster was in good health.

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