Myanmar charges US journalist with terrorism

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  • Myanmar coup

Image source, ReutersImage caption, Danny Fenster was detained at Yangon international airport in May

Military-ruled Myanmar has charged an American journalist with sedition and terrorism, which carry a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, his lawyer says.

Danny Fenster, 37, who was managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, was detained at Yangon international airport in May.

Dozens of local journalists have been detained since a coup in February.

Mr Fenster's trial on these charges is scheduled to begin on 16 November.

He is already on trial for allegedly encouraging dissent against the military, unlawful association and breaching immigration law.

But the new charges are the most serious, carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. It is not clear what Mr Fenster is accused of doing.

"He has become quite thin," his lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, told the AFP news agency.

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Thousands of people were detained during bloody demonstrations earlier this year after military leaders seized power.

At least 1,178 people were killed and 7,355 arrested, charged or sentenced during a crackdown on dissent that followed Aung San Suu Kyi being ousted from power, according to the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners.

The military has since clamped down on the country's independent media, arresting dozens of journalists.

The military government released hundreds of political prisoners last month but Mr Fenster was not among them.

The United States has urged Myanmar's junta to free Mr Fenster immediately.

"The profoundly unjust nature of Danny's detention is plain for all the world to see," a State Department spokesperson told AFP.

"The regime should take the prudent step of releasing him now… His continued detention is unacceptable. Journalism is not a crime."

His brother Bryan Fenster said in a message to Reuters: "We are as heartbroken about these charges as we have been about the other charges brought against Danny."

Frontier Myanmar is an English-language news magazine and website based in Yangon, which describes itself as independent and has covered the military coup extensively.

Mr Fenster, who worked for Frontier Myanmar for around a year, was arrested as he was about to fly out of the country to see his family in May. He has been held in Yangon's notorious Insein prison since.

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