American journalist Danny Fenster could face life in prison in Myanmar

Fenster, a 37-year-old man from Detroit, Michigan, has been detained in Myanmar for more than five months. He has been denied bail and has been held in Insein Prison in the country’s largest city Yangon since his arrest on May 24.

On Tuesday, a Yangon court brought charges of sedition and terrorism against Fenster, the most serious ever brought against the journalist, his lawyer Than Zaw Aung told CNN.

One of the charges is under Section 124a of the Myanmar Penal Code, which mandates seven to 20 years in prison for attempting to generate hatred, contempt or disaffection towards the government and the military.

The other charge is under Section 50 of the Counter-Terrorism Act, which makes it a crime to have contact with officially designated “terrorist” groups. Under the terrorism charge, Fenster could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison if convicted, according to his and Myanmar’s lawyer. sentencing guidelines.

CNN has reached out to legal experts in Myanmar to better understand how the guidelines might apply to you.

American journalist Danny Fenster denied bail and charged again in Myanmar

It was not immediately clear why the charges were brought against the former editor-in-chief of Frontier Myanmar, an independent news outlet that covered current affairs, business and politics in Myanmar. Fenster was arrested at Yangon International Airport while trying to leave the country to see his family in the United States.

CNN has reached out to the Myanmar military for comment.

Fenster now faces a total of five separate charges including visa violations, illegal association with an illegal group and incitement under section 505a of Myanmar’s penal code, which makes it a crime to post or circulate comments that “cause fear” or spread ” fake news. ” “

He is one of approximately 100 journalists detained since the military took power in a coup on February 1, of whom about 30 remain behind bars.

It is unclear why Fenster was arrested and there are scant details of his case. Trials and hearings are not held in civilian courts, but in military-run courts within the prison walls. Members of the public, journalists, and embassy officials cannot participate in the proceedings.

The military junta, which took power in a coup on February 1, has tried silence the country’s media revoking independent publishing and broadcasting licenses, raiding newspaper offices and targeting journalists for arrest.

Fenster’s family campaign tirelessly for his release. They are calling on the Biden Administration and the US State Department to secure his release and return to the US.

In September, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the United States remains “deeply concerned” about Fenster’s continued detention.

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