Now journalist Danny Fenster is being charged with ‘terrorism’ in Myanmar


Journalist Danny Fenster's family holds photographs of him at their Huntington Woods home. - KELLEY O'NEILL
  • Kelley O'Neill
  • Journalist Danny Fenster's family holds photographs of him at their Huntington Woods home.

Danny Fenster, the metro Detroit native and journalist who has been detained in Myanmar since May following a bloody authoritarian coup there, is now facing "terrorism" charges, according to his lawyer.

Fenster has been hit with two additional charges, his lawyer said Tuesday, according to the Associated Press. A "terrorism" charge covers "acts of exhortation, persuasion, propaganda, and recruitment of any person to participate in any terrorist group or activities of terrorism" and carries a penalty of three to seven years in prison. Another charge for "treason" carries between seven to 20 years in prison.

Previously, Fenster was charged for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information, which is punishable for up to three years in prison; for allegedly contacting "unlawful" groups deemed illegal by the government, which is punishable for up to three years in prison; and for allegedly violating visa conditions, punishable for up to five years in prison.

Fenster has been detained since May 24, when he tried to board a flight to return to the United States to visit his family in Huntington Woods. At the time he had been working as an editor for a publication called Frontier Myanmar. Previously, Myanmar officials said he was detained for his work with a publication called Myanmar Now, but Fenster's supporters say he last worked for Myanmar Now months before the coup.

It is not clear what Fenster's crime is.

"Danny joined us as magazine editor in the middle of last year, ahead of the election," Frontier Myanmar editor Thomas Kean previously told Metro Times. "He worked with another colleague and I to commission, edit, and publish features for the magazine and website. He wasn't really writing stories himself, he was editing pieces written by our Myanmar colleagues. Recently he was promoted to managing editor, taking over from another colleague. Because Danny wasn't writing, we don't see how he would have done something that would have caught the attention of the authorities. That's why his arrest at the airport on May 24 was so shocking for us."

Myanmar's military seized power on Feb. 1 after it didn't like the results of its democratically held election.

Elected officials like U.S. Rep Andy Levin, who represents Huntington Woods, have been lobbying for Fenster's release. Fenster's supporters have feared for his safety as COVID-19 surges in Myanmar.

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