Myanmar Frees US Journalist Danny Fester
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
(Worthy News) – A U.S. journalist sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Myanmar junta court was released on Monday, his employer and an American diplomat confirmed.
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Richardson said Danny Fenster had been released from prison and was handed over to him in Myanmar, also known as Burma. Richardson added that the journalist would be soon on his way home via Qatar.
“This is the day that you hope will come when you do this work,” Richardson explained in a statement.
Richardson explained that he negotiated Fenster’s release during a recent visit to Myanmar. He said he dealt face-to-face with General Min Aung Hlaing, the military leader who ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
“We are so grateful that Danny will finally be able to reconnect with his loved ones, who have been advocating for him all this time, against immense odds,” Richardson added.
Fenster is the managing editor of the independent news publication Frontier Myanmar. Since May, he had been detained in Myanmar when he tried to board a plane at Yangon International Airport to leave the military-ruled nation.
On Friday, a Myanmar junta court sentenced Fenster to 11 years in jail over several charges, including incitement for allegedly spreading “false or inflammatory” information.
His lawyer Than Zaw Aung said he was also found guilty of “contacting illegal organizations” and “violating visa regulations.”
Fenster was the first foreign journalist to face such a harsh sentence, which includes hard labor since the military junta overthrew the elected government in Myanmar, observers said.
Friday’s sentence was also the harshest punishment yet among the seven journalists known to have been convicted since the military took power.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price condemned the punishment calling it “an unjust conviction of an innocent person.”
How release meant another highlight for Richardson, who served as governor of New Mexico and secretary of energy in the Clinton administration.
He has a record of acting as a freelance diplomat with a tendency of traveling to nations with which Washington has poor if any relations.
That also includes North Korea — to obtain the freedom of detained Americans.
Recently he was involved in seeking freedom for U.S. citizens detained in Venezuela, another country with which Washington has strained ties.
Richardson has a long history of involvement with Myanmar, starting in 1994 when as a member of U.S. Congress, he met Suu Kyi at her home. She had been under house arrest since 1989 under a previous military government.
He also visited Myanmar in 2018 to advise on the crisis involving the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority.
More than 700,000 Rohingya fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh after Myanmar’s military in 2017 launched a brutal crackdown.
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