Conservation news

U.S. journalist arrested when trying to leave Myanmar

  • Danny Fenster, an American journalist working in Myanmar, was detained today by local authorities and prevented from leaving the country.
  • Fenster, 37, is the managing editor of the news organization Frontier Myanmar.
  • According to the outlet, Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport ahead of his flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia while on his way home to Detroit, Michigan to surprise his parents, who he hadn’t seen in two years.
  • Frontier Myanmar said that Fenster appears to have been taken to Insein Prison near Yangon.

Danny Fenster, an American journalist working in Myanmar, was detained today by local authorities and prevented from leaving the country, reports CNN.

Fenster, 37, is the managing editor of the news organization Frontier Myanmar. According to the outlet, Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport ahead of his flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Fenster, a US citizen, was on his way home to Detroit, Michigan to surprise his parents, who he hadn’t seen in two years, according to remarks his brother Bryan Fenster made to CNN.

Frontier Myanmar said that Fenster appears to have been taken to Insein Prison near Yangon.

“We understand he has been transferred to Insein Prison in Yangon,” said Frontier Myanmar in a statement. “We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him since this morning.”

U.S. journalist Danny Fenster. Photo credit: Frontier Myanmar

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an international organization that campaigns on behalf of journalists and press freedom, condemned the government’s action and called for Fenster’s immediate release.

“Myanmar authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Frontier Myanmar managing editor Danny Fenster and allow him to travel freely outside the country,” said Shawn Crispin, CPJ’s senior Southeast Asia representative, in a statement. “This unlawful restriction of a foreign journalist’s freedom of movement is the latest grave threat to press freedom in Myanmar.”

Frontier Myanmar said its priority is to “make sure [Fenster] is safe and to provide him with whatever assistance he needs.”

CNN reported that the U.S. government is currently monitoring the situation.

Fenster’s arrest comes a week after Japanese freelance journalist, Yuki Kitazumi, was released from Insein Prison and deported. Kitazumi said that while he was in detention, political prisoners told him they were being tortured. Kitazumi, who was charged with allegedly spreading “fake news” for reporting on the military junta’s violent crackdown on protesters following its coup d’état on February 1, said he was not tortured himself while being kept in a four-meter by two-meter (12×6-foot) cell.

According to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma), a non-profit human rights NGO based in Thailand, more than 824 people have been killed by Myanmar’s armed forces since the February 1 coup. The toll includes as least 44 children, according to the group.