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

Responding to the sentencing of American journalist Danny Fenster to a combined 11 years in prison, Ming Yu Hah, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for Campaigns, said:

“This is a reprehensible outcome in a case that has been deeply flawed from the start. Danny should have never been arrested in the first place and to sentence him to a combined 11 years shows how far Myanmar authorities are willing to go to signal that they do not respect independent media in the country or the impact on family members of those wrongly imprisoned.” 

“Danny has done nothing wrong, but has somehow been charged with multiple alleged offences that are completely out of touch with reality and his work as an independent journalist. The court also ignored reams of evidence showing where he worked and records of his time in the country. He should be immediately and unconditionally freed and all charges dropped.”

“Danny is a prisoner of conscience. His liberty was taken away from him cruelly and unjustly, solely for doing his work as a journalist and exercising his right to freedom of speech.”

“His case has illustrated the enormous increase in risks and challenges faced by journalists in Myanmar since the military seized power on February 1. But despite internet blackouts, legal threats and detentions, they continue to courageously report on the dire situation in Myanmar.”

Background

A court in Yangon sentenced 37-year-old Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison on Friday, according to his employer Frontier Myanmar, where he is the managing editor.

He was arrested on 24 May as he tried to board a flight out of the country, which has been in turmoil since the military coup earlier this year.

The three charges for which he was sentenced on 12 November relate to an alleged immigration offence, incitement, and unlawful association with an illegal group. He was given the maximum sentence under each charge, according to his employer, which said there was no basis for the allegations.

Since the coup the military authorities have arrested, detained, prosecuted and imprisoned dozens of journalists, stripped media outlets of their licenses, and erased years of press freedom gains. 

Amnesty International calls on the authorities in Myanmar to release journalists imprisoned simply for their work and the peaceful exercise of their human rights.