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American journalist to remain in Myanmar jail after bail hearing delayed

Danny Fenster, an American journalist who has been detained in Myanmar since May, will have to wait longer for a decision to be made on his bail application. A lawyer representing Fenster said Wednesday that the case has been postponed after the judge overseeing it broke his arm, the Associated Press reported.

Fenster is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an online publication based in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon. While preparing to board a Michigan-bound flight on May 24 to visit his family, Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport and has been in custody since.

Authorities arrested him for incitement—also called sedition—on grounds he allegedly spread false or inflammatory information. However, the charge against him has never been clarified to state what he is accused of doing.

Fenster is currently being detained at Yangon’s Insein Prison. His hearings are also taking place at the prison, though those proceedings are in the procedural stage and not open to media outlets or the public.

Fenster’s lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, said the judge who broke his arm is taking a month off to recuperate, and another judge will replace him temporarily. The defense and the prosecution resubmitted their arguments, and the new judge is anticipated to making a ruling at a new hearing scheduled for November 3.

The incitement charge carries a punishment of up to three years in prison.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

The bail hearing for Danny Fenster, an American journalist detained in Myanmar, was postponed on Wednesday. Above, a T-shirt wearer calls for the release of Fenster in Huntington Woods, Michigan, on June 4, 2021.
Photo by JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP via Getty Images

Fenster’s lawyer said his client did not comment on the delay but appeared disappointed at not being released from detention under a recent amnesty for political prisoners. He is among about 100 journalists detained since a February 1 military takeover ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Thirty-four journalists are believed to remain behind bars.

Earlier this month, Fenster was also charged under the Unlawful Associations Act, which carries a punishment of two to three years’ imprisonment for links to banned organizations.

His lawyer has said that he is being prosecuted for an offense allegedly carried out by a news service for which he had stopped working more than half a year before he was charged, and well before this year’s seizure of power by the military.

Government spokesman Major General Zaw Min Tun, when questioned in September about Fenster’s case, responded: “As for journalists, if they do only journalist’s work, there is no reason to arrest them. Danny Fenster did more than just what a journalist does.″ He did not elaborate.

Danny Fenster
In this 2018 photo, U.S. journalist Danny Fenster works out of his van that he made into a home/office in Detroit.
Fenster Family photo via AP, File

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