US journalist denied bail in Myanmar
A U.S. journalist was denied bail on Wednesday in Myanmar, where he has been jailed for the last five months.
Danny Fenster, a Detroit native being held in Yangon’s Insein Prison, had his bail application rejected and a new charge added against him, his lawyer said, according to The Associated Press.
Fenster, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, was charged earlier this year with allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information, a misdemeanor that carries up to three years in prison.
He also faces a possible two- to three-year prison term for violating the Unlawful Associations Act via alleged connections with unlawful opposition groups, the AP reports.
On Wednesday, Fenster was further charged with violating a section of Myanmar’s immigration law, according to his lawyer, Than Zaw Aung.
The immigration law bars applicants from overstaying their visa, violating provisions of their visa or entering the country illegally on penalty of up to five years in jail.
“We are closely monitoring Danny’s situation and continue to press Burma’s military regime to release Danny immediately. We will do so until he returns home safely to his family,” the State Department said in a statement to The Hill.
“We continue to stress that journalism is not a crime. Free and independent media is indispensable to building prosperous, resilient, and free societies. The detention of Danny Fenster, and arrest of other journalists and use of violence by the Burmese military against members of the media, constitutes an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression in Burma,” the State Department added.
Fenster was jailed in May while he was trying to leave Yangon and head back home to the U.S.
“The detention of Danny Fenster and other journalists constitutes an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression in Burma,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in September. “We continue to press Burma’s military regime to release Danny immediately.”
News of Fenster’s bail application rejection comes as Bill Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is visiting Myanmar in an effort to convince the country’s leaders to allow aid for the coronavirus pandemic and other issues.
Richardson’s spokesperson Madeleine Mahony refused to confirm if he would be seeking the release of Fenster on Nov. 1.
“While this is not an effort sponsored by, or on behalf of, the United States government, we hope his trip contributes to improved humanitarian access,” the State Department said in a statement to The Associated Press on Monday.
Updated at 6:19 p.m.
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