American journalist in Myanmar is ‘arrested just before boarding flight to Kuala Lumpur’

Danny Fenster, 37, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country's top independent news sites, was detained at the main international gateway in Yangon while preparing to fly to Malaysia, Frontier said on Twitter

Danny Fenster, 37, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country's top independent news sites, was detained at the main international gateway in Yangon while preparing to fly to Malaysia, Frontier said on Twitter

Danny Fenster, 37, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s top independent news sites, was detained at the main international gateway in Yangon while preparing to fly to Malaysia, Frontier said on Twitter

An American editor of a news site in military-ruled Myanmar was detained on Monday as he attempted to take a flight out of the country, his news organization said, the fourth foreign journalist held since a coup in February.

Danny Fenster, 37, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s top independent news sites, was detained at the main international gateway in Yangon while preparing to fly to Malaysia, Frontier said on Twitter.

It said he had been transferred to Yangon’s Insein Prison, a detention center where the ruling military junta has confined its political enemies.

‘We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him,’ Frontier Myanmar said.

‘We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities now are to make sure he is safe and provide him with whatever assistance he needs.’

A spokesman for the ruling military council did not answer a call seeking comment.

A spokeswoman for the US embassy in Yangon said: ‘We are unable to provide details due to privacy considerations.’

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government on February 1, citing alleged fraud in an election three months earlier.

The junta that took power in February after the army ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi has arrested about 80 journalists, roughly half of whom remain detained awaiting charges or trial. 

Fenster is the fourth foreign journalist to be detained, after Kamayut Media editor-in-chief and fellow US citizen Nathan Maung, who is detained at Insein Prison, and freelancers Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan, who were expelled. 

The intervention after 10 years of tentative democracy has sparked nationwide outrage, with daily protests and strikes that the military has struggled to suppress, despite its use of lethal force and the arrest of thousands of people.

Journalists have been among those held, accused of incitement by the junta, which has restricted internet access, banned satellite broadcasts and rescinded the licenses of several news organizations.

'We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him,' Frontier Myanmar said. 'We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities now are to make sure he is safe and provide him with whatever assistance he needs.'

'We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him,' Frontier Myanmar said. 'We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities now are to make sure he is safe and provide him with whatever assistance he needs.'

‘We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him,’ Frontier Myanmar said. ‘We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities now are to make sure he is safe and provide him with whatever assistance he needs.’

Bryan Fenster, Danny's brother, wrote on his Facebook page on Monday: 'We’re absolutely stunned and extremely confused as to why Dan was detained. We’re grateful to his family in Yangon, the Embassy, his friends/co-workers at Frontier Myanmar and the many people on the ground who are helping him. We love you so much, Dan.'

Bryan Fenster, Danny's brother, wrote on his Facebook page on Monday: 'We’re absolutely stunned and extremely confused as to why Dan was detained. We’re grateful to his family in Yangon, the Embassy, his friends/co-workers at Frontier Myanmar and the many people on the ground who are helping him. We love you so much, Dan.'

Bryan Fenster, Danny’s brother, wrote on his Facebook page on Monday: ‘We’re absolutely stunned and extremely confused as to why Dan was detained. We’re grateful to his family in Yangon, the Embassy, his friends/co-workers at Frontier Myanmar and the many people on the ground who are helping him. We love you so much, Dan.’

According to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, which keeps a detailed tally of arrests and deaths since the military takeover, almost 4,300 people are in detention, including 95 who have already been sentenced.

Fenster is a 37-year-old native of the Detroit area who joined Frontier Myanmar in August 2020. 

Deadline Detroit, a news website to which he was an occasional contributor, said he had been en route to see his family back home when he was detained.

It said he has a master’s degree in creative writing from Detroit’s Wayne State University, and had worked for a newspaper in Louisiana before moving to Southeast Asia.

‘He has a fascination and passion for writing about folks who struggle and fight for social justice,’ brother Bryan Fenster in the Detroit area told The Associated Press.

‘He was very interested in what was happening with Rohingya people there. It’s a delicate, complex situation…We hope he’s safe. Such a shame.’

Bryan wrote on his Facebook page on Monday: ‘We’re absolutely stunned and extremely confused as to why Dan was detained.

‘We’re grateful to his family in Yangon, the Embassy, his friends/co-workers at Frontier Myanmar and the many people on the ground who are helping him. 

‘We love you so much, Dan.’ 

Rohingya Muslims fled Buddhist-majority Myanmar for Bangladesh in 2017 during a major crackdown by the military.

Demonstrators on motorcycles gesture their hands during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government on February 1, citing alleged fraud in an election three months earlier

Demonstrators on motorcycles gesture their hands during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government on February 1, citing alleged fraud in an election three months earlier

Demonstrators on motorcycles gesture their hands during a protest against the military coup in Mandalay, Myanmar on Monday. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew the elected government on February 1, citing alleged fraud in an election three months earlier

Frontier Myanmar is one of two established English-language media outlets in Myanmar still allowed to publish, along with The Irrawaddy. 

Two others, Myanmar Now and Mizzima, were banned but continue to operate underground.

‘We don’t have much to add beyond what we said in the statement,’ Thomas Kean, editor-in-chief of Frontier Myanmar, told the AP.

The US Embassy in Myanmar was unable to provide details about any such incident because of privacy considerations, said its spokeswoman, Aryani Manning. 

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