U.S. Journalist Held in Myanmar Charged With Sedition, Terrorism
(Bloomberg) -- An American journalist faces new charges of terrorism and sedition nearly six months after he was detained by the military junta, his lawyer said, dealing a fresh blow to U.S. efforts to free him.
Danny Fenster, managing editor of Frontier Myanmar news outlet, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is found in breach of the counter terrorism law, while the penalty for the sedition law goes up to three years.
The journalist was taken into custody at the airport in Yangon in May as he was trying to leave the country just months after the junta seized control of the government. He was sent to the city’s Insein Prison and then charged with inciting dissent against military, breaching the immigration law and unlawful association.
“Now he has been charged with a total of 5 criminal charges,” Than Zaw Aung, Fenster’s lawyer, told Bloomberg News. The first hearing for the new charges will be heard on Nov. 16 while court proceedings for the other three charges are in progress with verdicts expected in coming days, he added.
The fresh charges come after former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson met with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing in Naypyidaw in November to discuss humanitarian issues, although he later said Fenster didn’t come up in discussions. The U.S. government has pushed the junta to release Fenster even though it formally shuns Myanmar and has led international efforts to sanction the regime and its businesses.
The junta’s “ongoing violent crackdown has further undermined human rights and reversed a decade of progress toward a genuine democracy,” U.S Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Monday, marking one year since civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her party won big in elections.
Suu Kyi has been on trial for nearly five months for 11 charges ranging from corruption to the possession of unlicensed walkie-talkies, which her supporters say are politically motivated. The junta has denied this.
A court in Myanmar will deliver a verdict on Dec. 14 for the first of several charges leveled against Suu Kyi.
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