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Myanmar | US Journalist Surprisingly Released After Conviction

The journalist Danny Fenster was actually sentenced to eleven years in prison. But US diplomats negotiated his release with Myanmar's military junta.

The US journalist Danny Fenster, who has been detained in Myanmar for five and a half months , has been released unexpectedly. He was released from custody after a "private humanitarian visit" by former US diplomat Bill Richardson in the crisis country and personal negotiations with junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, it said in a statement. Fenster had only been sentenced to eleven years in prison a few days ago.

"This is the day you hope will come if you do this job," said Richardson, who has brokered hostage-taking in the past. Fenster, a senior editor of the English-language magazine Frontier Myanmar, was arrested at Yangon airport in late May just before the flight to the United States. Since then he has been in Insein Prison, from which there have been repeated reports of torture.

His actual conviction was on three counts, including incitement to riot. Last week, the Myanmar judiciary brought two other charges against him - terrorism and rioting. In the opinion of his lawyer, he was threatened with life imprisonment for this.

Editorial team calls for the release of journalists

The military junta in Myanmar has been cracking down on all critical voices since the coup in early February. "Danny and the Richardson team will start their long journey home via Qatar in the next day and a half and are looking forward to reuniting Danny with his parents Buddy and Rose and his brother Bryan in the United States," the statement said.

"We're relieved that Danny is finally out of jail - a place he should never have been," said his boss at Frontier Myanmar, Thomas Kean. At the same time, Fenster is just one of many journalists who have been in custody since the coup for doing their job. "We are calling on the military regime to release all journalists who are behind bars in Myanmar," said Kean.

The military in Myanmar had ousted the de facto Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi in early February . Since then, she has been under house arrest and also has to answer for various alleged offenses in court . The junta suppresses all resistance with brutal violence. According to estimates by the prisoners' aid organization AAPP, around 1,260 people have already been killed there. More than 10,000 others were arrested, including many journalists. Others fled the country.

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