Monday, June 21, 2021

State Department calls for the release of a detained American journalist in Myanmar

A State Department spokesman said on Friday, “We are deeply concerned by the detention of US citizen Daniel Fenster, who was working as a journalist in Burma.” “We have pressured the military regime to release him immediately and continue to do so until he is allowed to return home safely to his family.”

The 37-year-old Fenster, originally from Detroit, works for the news site Frontier Myanmar in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.

A State Department spokesman said that consular officials at the US embassy have “sought to meet Daniels, but they have not yet been granted access by government officials.”

“We urge the Burmese regime to give the necessary consular access to the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations without delay and ensure Daniel’s proper treatment while in custody,” the spokesman said.

“Free and independent media is indispensable for building a prosperous, resilient and free society,” the spokesperson said. “Daniel Fenster’s detention, as well as the arrest and use of violence against other journalists by the Burmese army, is an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression in Burma.”

Representative Andy Levine, Michigan Democrat Tweeted on friday: “Yesterday, I spoke to Burma’s Ambassador to the US and our Ambassador to Burma @StateDept. Danny Fenster’s immediate and unconditional release is a top priority. Thanks for your call and email. Please know that I stop fighting until Danny I won’t. It’s home. “

Frontier Myanmar said in a statement earlier this week that the news outlet did not know why Fenster was held, adding: “We are concerned for his well-being and call for his immediate release. Right now. Our priority is to make sure that he is safe. And to provide whatever support he needs. “

Frontier Myanmar also said that he understands that Fenster has been transferred to Insen Prison near Yangon. Insein is one of the most notorious prisons in the country, known for its pathetic conditions.

Fenster’s brother Brian Fenster said earlier this week that the family did not know much about his brother’s condition.

He said, “I can only assume being a journalist in a country run by the military that wants to control the narrative, when he was at the airport he was flagged as being a journalist. Imagination.” Can’t begin to explain why this happened. ” “He was on valid work papers, valid visas, passports, everything. He was voluntarily leaving the country and coming to meet the family, so we can’t see what the issue is.”

He said that his brother was going to the United States to surprise his parents, whom he had not seen for more than two years. The family was concerned about the safety of being a journalist in Myanmar after the February military coup, and feeling surprised and worried at the news of his detention, Brian called it a “nightmare”.

The democratically elected government has been overthrown, almost four months after Myanmar’s military seized power in the coup on 1 February. Aung San Suu Kyi And detaining government officials. Junta security forces Almost daily protests were ruthlessly suppressed According to the Advocacy Group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, more than 820 people were killed and more than 5,400 were arrested across the country.

The junta has attempted to silence the country’s media by canceling independent publishing and broadcasting licenses, raiding newspaper offices and targeting journalists for arrest. According to the reporting ASEAN, 85 journalists are among the thousands detained since the coup, of which 48 are still in custody.

Feinster is among the many foreign journalists detained since the coup.

Johnny Hallam and Sharif Paget of CNN contributed to this report.

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