Family hopes for return of US journalist detained in Myanmar

BANGKOK—The mother of a journalist detained in Myanmar says she and the family “just want him here” in Michigan.

“It was a total visceral reaction, gut, visceral, numbing, nauseating, tearful, helpless feeling,” Rose Fenster said, describing how she felt when learning about the detention of her son, Danny Fenster.

The 37-year-old managing editor of Frontier Myanmar was detained at Yangon International Airport on Monday as he was preparing to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, en route to the Detroit area to see his family.

“It’s important we get this resolved as quickly as possible. We’re on Day 5, so time is crucial. We want him out of there,” Bryan Fenster, Danny’s older brother, said during an interview Friday at their parents’ home in Huntington Woods, Michigan.

Earlier in the day, the US State Department said it was deeply concerned about the detention of Danny Fenster and another American citizen who also has been working as a journalist in Myanmar. The State Department is pressing that country’s military government for their immediate release. It said in a statement that it will keep seeking the release of Fenster and Nathan Maung “until they are allowed to return home safely to their families.”

Frontier Myanmar is a news and business magazine that is published in English and Burmese and also online.

Human-rights organizations and groups promoting freedom of expression have been calling for the release of both men, as well as all other journalists being held by Myanmar’s military government.

Michigan Rep. Andy Levin said he has been in close contact with the State Department and the Fenster family, whom he represents in Congress.

“This is about freeing an American citizen who has been unjustly detained,” Levin said. “And we’re all rowing in the same direction here.”

Bryan Fenster said his brother has been taken to Insein Prison in Yangon, which over decades has housed thousands of political prisoners, including many from the current movement protesting military rule.

“We’ve been hearing terrible things about the conditions there,” Bryan Fenster said,

Maung and Myanmar national Hanthar Nyein, co-founders of the Myanmar news website Kamayut Media, were arrested on March 9, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists, citing accounts in Myanmar media. The group said it had reports that Maung, the website’s editor-in-chief, and Hanthar, a news producer, had been physically mistreated by guards in their first few weeks at Insein Prison.  

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