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Press FreedomMyanmar

Myanmar: Jailed journalist Danny Fenster back in the US

November 16, 2021

The editor was looking at 11 years in jail in Myanmar before a former US diplomat secured his release. Myanmar's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is facing charges of election fraud.

Danny Fenster wears an orange beanie-style hat while hugging his parents and brother at the airport
Jailed journalist Danny Fenster hugged his parents and brother on arrival at JFK airport, New YorkImage: Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS

An American journalist jailed for six months by a Myanmar junta court returned to the United States on Tuesday.

Danny Fenster hugged his parents after landing at New York's JFK airport at about 8 a.m. local time (1300 UTC).

What did Fenster say on arrival?

On arrival Fenster said it felt "incredible" to be reunited with his family.

Fenster, who worked for independent online news outlet Frontier Myanmar, was sentenced on Friday to 11 years in jail over several charges.

He arrived back with former diplomat and US Cabinet secretary Bill Richardson, who secured his release from prison Monday.

Fenster said he planned to briefly celebrate his release with relatives before turning his attention to other journalists and "prisoners of conscience" jailed in Myanmar.

"There are a lot of citizens, doctors, teachers that are in prison. This will be a short celebration. Let's keep focused on what the actual story is here," he said.

American journalist Danny Fenster and Bill Richardson walk down an orange corridor after arriving at JFK International Airport in New York,
Fenster arrives back with former diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped secure his releaseImage: Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS

Myanmar's ousted leader faces prosecution

Fenster returned home as Myanmar's state election commission announced that it is prosecuting the country's ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi for alleged fraud in the November 2020 general election.

She is being prosecuted along with 15 other senior political figures by the Union Election Commission.

The announcement was published Tuesday in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper and other official media.

The military has said that widespread electoral fraud allegations were the driving force behind the coup on February 1, which toppled Suu Kyi's government.

But independent observers, such as the Asian Network for Free Elections, found no evidence of substantive irregularities in the polls, though they criticized some aspects.

What impact could a prosecution have?

The action by the commission could potentially result in Suu Kyi's party being dissolved and unable to participate in a new election the military has promised will take place within two years of its takeover.

A notice from the commission, dated Monday, did not specify which laws would be used to prosecute Suu Kyi.

kmm/wd (AP, AFP)