The managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, American journalist Danny Fenster, has been held for months by the Burmese junta and has now been charged with a third criminal offence. He had originally been arrested in May when attempting to leave the country.
After being held for nearly 6 months, Fenster is still on trial, accused of promoting dissent against the Burmese military junta as well as unlawful association. If convicted on both of these charges, he faces a prison sentence of 6 years.
Now according to his lawyer, the American journalist will face an additional third criminal charge for violating immigration law. The charge was levied by the junta during a hearing yesterday that was held inside Insein Prison in Yangon where Fenster is being held.
His lawyer is confused about the extra charge, saying he doesn’t know the reason it was added, and confirming that his client’s visa was valid when he attempted to leave and the military apprehended him. If convicted of this third charge, it could add a maximum of another 5 years in prison, meaning Fenster could face over a decade in detention. The trial is expected to begin tomorrow.
Fenster is said to be physically ok and in good health but understandably stressed over the new charges by the junta. His family believes that he was infected with Covid-19 while imprisoned though.
Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has been acting as a hostage negotiator and US diplomat and just 2 days ago met with Burmese junta leader General Min Aung Hlaing in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw, but it is unknown if Fenster’s detention was discussed. Richardson’s organisation issued a statement saying he was on a private humanitarian mission with no other details.
Meanwhile, Myanmar has been in a humanitarian crisis since the military junta overthrew the government in February and have carried out a brutal crackdown on civilian dissent while fighting armed insurgencies around the country. Local monitoring groups say over 1,200 people have died at the hands of the military, while the junta has throttled internet access and press freedom to control information flow.
SOURCE: The Phuket News
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