American journalist Danny Fenster was freed from a Myanmar prison just days after being sentenced to 11 years of hard labor, a U.S. diplomat who helped negotiate the release said Monday.
Fenster, the editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was released and is on is way home, Bill Richardson, a former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and the former governor of New Mexico, told the Associated Press.
“This is the day that you hope will come when you do this work,” Richardson said. “We are so grateful that Danny will finally be able to reconnect with his loved ones, who have been advocating for him all this time, against immense odds.”
Fenster, whose family lives in Huntington Woods, Michigan, was arrested in May just before he left Myanmar, and he was later sentenced to over a decade in prison for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating the terms of his visa.
“Danny is one of many journalists in Myanmar who have been unjustly arrested simply for doing their job since the February coup,” Frontier Myanmar Editor-in-Chief Thomas Kean told the AP after Fenster’s release.
“When Danny Fenster cleared Burmese airspace and we knew he was free, this was probably the happiest moment of my time in Congress,” said Michigan Democratic Rep. Andy Levin, whose Metro Detroit seat includes Fenster’s hometown.
Fenster’s arrest and sentencing came after Myanmar’s military in February staged a successful coup that overthrew the elected government. The military launched violent crackdowns following its rise to power that led to hundreds of civilian deaths and the arrests, and Fenster is not the only journalist the military has targeted.
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