American Journalist Detained by Myanmar Junta in Yangon
Demonstrators display signs spelling ‘save Myanmar’ during a protest outside the United Nations Building in Bangkok. (Photographer: Andre Malerba/Bloomberg)

American Journalist Detained by Myanmar Junta in Yangon

Myanmar’s military junta detained an American journalist at the airport in the commercial capital Yangon, intensifying its crackdown on the media nearly four months after it seized power from the civilian government.

Danny Fenster, managing editor of the local media outlet Frontier Myanmar, was taken into custody at the airport Monday shortly before he was due to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur. He was sent to Insein Prison in the city, Frontier said in a statement.

“We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him since this morning. We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release,” the statement reads. “Our priorities right now are to make sure he is safe and to provide him with whatever assistance he needs.”

Fenster, 37, started working for Frontier in August 2020. He is not the first foreign journalist detained by the junta led by Min Aung Hlaing. Earlier this month Japanese freelance journalist, Yuki Kitazumi, was held and later released after efforts by Japanese diplomats and others. The junta announced on state broadcaster MRTV that he was freed as a “gesture to Tokyo.”

Since the Feb. 1 coup, at least 83 journalists have been arrested and 47 are still in detention. Twenty-two others have been issued with arrest warrants and charged under telecommunications law, or a section under the colonial-era penal code for causing fear and spreading false news. Eight media houses have had their licenses revoked, according to a report by the monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Aryani Manring said she was unable to provide details due to privacy considerations.

The Committee to Protect Journalists called on Myanmar authorities to immediately release Fenster and allow him to travel freely outside the country. “This unlawful restriction of a foreign journalist’s freedom of movement is the latest grave threat to press freedom in Myanmar,” Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, said in a statement.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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