Who is Danny Fenster, an American Jewish journalist imprisoned in Myanmar?

A court in Myanmar, run by the military, sentenced American Jewish journalist Danny Fenster to 11 years in prison on Friday, despite efforts by the US government to free him after he was arrested trying to leave the country months after that the army seized power on February 1.

Here are five facts about Fenster:


Fenster, 37, is the editor-in-chief of Frontier Myanmar online magazine, one of the country’s leading independent news sites. He previously worked for another publication, Myanmar Now, a medium focused on research and longer-form reporting, but was banned after the military seized power.

His brother said he was a desktop editor.

Myanmar flag. (credit: PIXABAY)


Fenster was detained on May 24 at the main international gateway in Yangon City as he prepared to fly to Malaysia, the first leg of a trip back to his home state of Michigan, where he planned to surprise his parents after several years away.

Authorities first charged him with incitement, violation of immigration laws and association with illegal groups. The junta has labeled opposition groups in Myanmar, including representatives of the deposed civilian government, as “terrorist” organizations.

The sentences handed down on Friday for those crimes were “the harshest possible under the law,” his magazine said.

He faces additional charges of sedition and terrorism, announced earlier this week, each with a maximum sentence of 20 years.


Fenster studied journalism in Chicago, where she connected with the Burmese community through her work at a refugee organization, according to a profile in the Chicago Tribune.

He then worked at a newspaper in Louisiana before moving to Southeast Asia.

His brother has said he was drawn to Myanmar because he wanted to cover human rights issues, including the expulsion of members of the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017, an offensive the United Nations has said was carried out with “genocidal intent.” Myanmar denies it.


Fenster is one of dozens of journalists arrested in Myanmar after the coup, but the first foreign journalist to be sentenced since 2017 when several Singaporean reporters were jailed for flying a drone in the capital, Naypyitaw, but quickly released.

Fenster’s trial has taken place in military courts inside the prison with no access for outside observers.

The State Department said in June that embassy staff were being denied consular access.

His family has launched a campaign for his release.


The famous colonial-era jail that Fenster is being held in in Yangon, Insein Prison, has housed political prisoners in overcrowded and miserable conditions for decades.

Fenster’s lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, told reporters that the prolonged imprisonment was causing him mental strain and that he was becoming depressed.


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