Human Lives Human Rights: A court in military controlled country , Myanmar sentenced the U.S. journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison after finding him guilty on several charges.
The 37-year-old was detained at Yangon airport in May and found guilty of breaching immigration law, unlawful association, spreading false or inflammatory information. and encouraging dissent against the military.
Earlier this week, Fenster was slapped with two additional charges of sedition and terrorism, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Fenster, who was the managing editor of online site Frontier Myanmar, is one of dozens of local journalists that have been detained since a military coup in February.
According to Frontier, Fenster had earlier worked for Myanmar Now, an independent news site that has been critical of the military since the coup.
“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,” said the news site.
Frontier noted that the court had disregarded key evidence, including tax records, which confirmed Fenster’s employment at the news magazine.
“There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny of these charges,” Frontier Editor in Chief Thomas Kean wrote in the statement shared on social media.
“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. Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated at this decision.”
The ruling comes days after Bill Richardson, a former United States diplomat and hostage negotiator, met coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and after prosecutors targeted Fenster with additional charges of ‘terrorism’ and sedition.
The military detained elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior officials on February 1 seizing power for itself. The move prompted mass protests and a civil disobedience movement to which the generals have responded with force, killing more than 1,250 people and detaining at least 10,000, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which has been monitoring the situation.
Human Rights Watch, said that the court’s decision was “outrageous”. “The charges against him are trumped up & bogus, he’s committed no crimes!”
The trial of Danny Fenster took place behind closed doors, literally, inside Insein prison, where he and many of those detained since the February coup are being held.
We know only what his lawyers can tell us about the process. But the charges the military authorities filed against him are clearly absurd.