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State Department requires launch of US journalist detained in Myanmar

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

Fenster, 37, who’s initially from Detroit, works for the information web site Frontier Myanmar in Myanmar’s largest metropolis, Yangon.

The State Department spokesperson mentioned consular officers from the US Embassy “have sought to visit Daniel, but have thus far not been afforded access to him by regime officials.”

“We urge the Burmese regime to grant consular access, as required by the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, without delay, and to ensure proper treatment of Daniel while he remains detained,” the spokesperson mentioned.

“Free and independent media is indispensable to building prosperous, resilient and free societies,” the spokesperson mentioned. “The detention of Daniel Fenster, as well as the arrest and use of violence by the Burmese military against other journalists, constitutes an unacceptable attack on freedom of expression in Burma.”

Rep. Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat, tweeted on Friday: “Yesterday, I spoke with @StateDept, the Burmese ambassador to the U.S. and our ambassador to Burma. Danny Fenster’s immediate and unconditional release is a top priority. Thank you for your calls and emails. Please know I will not stop fighting until Danny is home.”

Frontier Myanmar mentioned in an announcement earlier this week that the information outlet did not know why Fenster had been held, including: “We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities right now are to make sure he is safe and to provide him with whatever assistance he needs.”

Frontier Myanmar additionally mentioned it understands Fenster has been transferred to Insein Prison close to Yangon. Insein is likely one of the nation’s most infamous prisons, identified for its deplorable circumstances.

Fenster’s brother Bryan Fenster mentioned earlier this week that the household would not have a lot data on his brother’s state of affairs.

“I can only assume being a journalist in a country that’s run by the military who wants to control the narrative, he was flagged being a journalist when he was at the airport. Can’t begin to imagine why it happened,” he mentioned. “He was on valid work papers, valid visas, passports, everything. He was voluntarily leaving the country to come visit family, so we can’t see what the issue is.”

He mentioned his brother was flying to the United States to shock his dad and mom, whom he had not seen for greater than two years. The household had been involved concerning the security of being a journalist in Myanmar following February’s army coup, and felt shocked and frightened on the information of his detention, Bryan mentioned, calling it a “nightmare.”

The detention comes nearly 4 months after Myanmar’s army seized energy in a coup on February 1, overthrowing the democratically elected authorities of Aung San Suu Kyi and detaining authorities officers. Junta safety forces have brutally suppressed nearly every day protests throughout the nation, killing greater than 820 individuals and arresting greater than 5,400, in accordance with advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The junta has tried to silence the nation’s media by revoking impartial publishing and broadcast licenses, raiding newspaper workplaces and focusing on journalists for arrest. Among the hundreds of individuals detained for the reason that coup are 85 journalists, together with 48 nonetheless in detention, in accordance with Reporting Asean.

Fenster is amongst a lot of international journalists to be detained for the reason that coup.

CNN’s Jonny Hallam and Sharif Paget contributed to this report.

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