Military regime gives American journalist Danny Fenster 11 years in prison in Myanmar

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Nov. 12 (UPI) — An American magazine editor on Friday became the first foreign journalist to be convicted and sentenced for a serious offense under the military regime in Myanmar, which seized power in a coup more than nine months ago.

Danny Fenster, the managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was sentenced to 11 years in prison for spreading false or inflammatory information.

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Fenster, 37, was also sentenced for making illegal contacts and violating visa requirements.

In addition to the prison sentence, Fenster was ordered to pay a fine of 100,000 kyat, equal to about $55.

The charges stem mainly from Fenster’s association with banned media outlet Myanmar Now before he moved to Frontier Myanmar last year.

Military officials say Fenster continued to work for Myanmar Now after the junta took power in February, although the journalist gave proof that he hasn’t worked for the outlet since July 2020 — seven months before the coup.

“There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny of these charges. His legal team clearly demonstrated to the court that he had resigned from Myanmar Now and was working for Frontier from the middle of last year,” said Thomas Kean, Frontier Myanmar’s Editor-in-Chief, according to Myanmar Now.

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Fenster was arrested five months ago and accused of inciting unrest against the junta regime. Friday, he was given three years for an incitement charge, three years for violating the Unlawful Associations Acts and five years for an immigration charge.

The military court dismissed evidence provided by Myanmar Now and Frontier Myanmar that both showed the time frame for Fenster’s employment.

Myanmar Now editor-in-chief Swe Sin and editors Nyein Chan and Aung Shin are accused of similar crimes. About 100 journalists have been detained in Myanmar since the military takeover, but Fenster is the first foreign member of the media to be jailed for a serious offense under the new regime.