Danny Fenster: American journalist sentenced in Myanmar to 11 years in prison


Fenster, a 37-year-old from Detroit, Michigan, has been detained in Myanmar for more than five months. He has been denied bail and held in Insein Prison, in the country’s biggest city Yangon, since his May 24 arrest.

At a court hearing on Friday, his lawyer Than Zaw Aung said Fenster was found guilty of three charges brought against him by the Myanmar military, which seized control of the country in a coup on February 1.

Those charges include visa breaches, unlawful association with an illegal group and incitement under section 505a of Myanmar’s Penal Code, which makes it a crime to publish or circulate comments that “cause fear” or spread “false news.” Fenster was also given a fine in local currency equivalent to $50.

Fenster is one of about 100 journalists detained since the coup. About 30 remain behind bars.

Earlier this week he was hit with two new criminal charges under the country’s sedition and terrorism laws, which carry a maximum sentence of life in prison, his lawyer said.

They include charges under Section 124a of Myanmar’s Penal Code, which mandates seven to 20 years imprisonment for attempting to bring hatred, contempt or disaffection toward the government and military.

The other charge is under Section 50a of the Counter Terrorism Law, which makes it a crime to have contact with officially designated “terrorist” groups. Under the terrorism charge, Fenster could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison if convicted, according to his lawyer and Myanmar’s sentencing guidelines.

It was not immediately clear why the charges have been brought against the former managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an independent news outlet that covered current affairs, business and politics in Myanmar. Fenster was arrested at Yangon International Airport while trying to leave the country to see his family in the United States.

CNN Business has reached out to Myanmar’s military for comment.

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