US journalist in Myanmar gets 11 years in jail ‘without any proof’

In Myanmar, US journalist Danny Fenster has been sentenced to eleven years in prison behind closed doors, his lawyer and employer report. According to Reuters news agency, he is the first Western journalist to face imprisonment since the military seized power in the Southeast Asian country in February.

Fenster had a leadership position at the independent news website Frontier Myanmar. โ€œEveryone is disappointed and frustrated with this decision,โ€ reports the organization on Twitter. โ€œThere is no evidence whatsoever for the charges on which he was convicted.โ€

Possibly even longer in the cell

According to the news platform, Fenster was indicted, among other things, for sedition and violating immigration laws. It would be the hardest possible punishment based on such allegations.

But Fenster may be behind bars much longer. There are two additional charges against him, each with a maximum sentence of twenty years.

The military powers have not disclosed anything about the lawsuit yet. A junta spokesperson was not reachable to Reuters for comment.

Stuck since May

The 37-year-old American was arrested in May when he tried to leave the country by plane. Since then, according to his colleagues, he has been trapped in the infamous Insein prison in Yangon, the largest city in the country. The US authorities have unsuccessfully directed Fenster‘s release.

Since the coup, more than 7000 people have been arrested, charged or convicted for political reasons. Dozens of them are journalists, who, according to the new powers, are scouring up the population with โ€œfake news.โ€ Observer organization AAPB also reports that 1253 people have been killed by military personnel.

Armed Resistance

The country with 54 million inhabitants was ruled by the army until 2011. After that, there was a period of democratic reform and Myanmar reopened its borders to tourism. The turning point was the late last year’s election.

The party of popular Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi then won an absolute majority in parliament. According to the army, there was fraud, but international observers found no evidence of that statement. Then the army command committed a coup. The population responded with massive protests, strikes and more recently armed resistance.