A Myanmar military court has sentenced US journalist and managing editor of online site Frontier Myanmar Danny Fenster (37) to 11 years in jail for breaching immigration law, unlawful association and encouraging dissent against the military.
Fenster was slapped with two additional charges of sedition and terrorism earlier this week. He was detained at the Yangon international airport by the military in May and was one of the hundred local journalists detained since a military coup in February.
American journalist Danny Fenster was sentenced to 11 years in prison in Myanmar, his magazine said, describing the sentence as ‘the harshest possible under the law’ https://t.co/DeKzKSU35m pic.twitter.com/Ij2A5koCDr— Reuters (@Reuters) November 12, 2021
The journalist’s trial on the new charges will begin on November 16. As per Fenster’s employer, he has received a three-year sentence for the incitement charge, three years for the unlawful association charge and five years for the immigration charge.
‘Trial took place behind closed doors’
As per a BBC report, Fenster’s trial took place behind closed doors, inside Insein prison, where he and many of those detained are held. Allegedly, the charges pressed against Fenster are ‘absurd’ and ‘unclear.’
As per the news site, “The charges were all based on the allegation that he was working for banned media outlet Myanmar Now. Danny had resigned from Myanmar Now in July 2020 and joined Frontier the following month, so at the time of his arrest in May 2021 he had been working with Frontier for more than nine months.”
‘Hard to see Biden administration soften its stance’
Jonathan Head, BBC’s South East Asia Correspondent in his analysis claimed that the US administration has softened its stance to get Fenster out.
“Perhaps the military is hoping for a gesture, a photo-op with a US official; friendless and isolated, the junta might consider that a worthwhile prize for releasing him,” wrote Head.
In February this year, the Myanmar Army had staged a coup and declared it had taken control of the country for one year under a state of emergency.
The Myanmar military’s intervention came after weeks of continued friction between the country’s military, which ruled the country for over five decades, and the civilian government over allegations of irregularities in November’s elections.
Since the coup, at least 1,178 people have been killed and 7,355 arrested, charged or sentenced in a crackdown on dissent.