“His legal department,” added Mr. Kean, “made it clear to the court that he stepped down from Myanmar Now and has been with Frontier since the middle of last year.”
Understand the chaos in Myanmar
“Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated with this decision,” he continued. “We just want Danny to be released as soon as possible so he can go home to his family.”
A native of Detroit, Mr. Fenster worked for news agencies there and in Louisiana before moving to Myanmar in 2019. Bryan Fenster, his brother, said the two of them, both grandsons of Holocaust survivors, once volunteered in Chicago to help a refugee family from Myanmar, which may have influenced his decision to live there.
Myanmar’s military, which shared power with civilian governments for a decade prior to the February 1 coup, has since carried out a violent raid that killed more than 1,250 people and detained more than 7,000. More than 100 journalists have been arrested, 35 of whom are still in prison, according to a group of watchdogs.
Former US diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped rescue other prisoners from autocratic countries, recently met with junta leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing in Myanmar. But while securing the release of a former nonprofit employee, Mr Richardson said he had not raised the possibility of Mr Fenster’s release because the State Department asked him not to.
Myanmar’s courts have begun to impose harsh sentences on prominent politicians who have spoken out against the coup. In one case, a deposed local government chief was sentenced to 90 years on six corruption charges and a former senior civil servant to 75 years on five similar charges. Fifteen years was the maximum possible sentence for any count.
Overthrown Myanmar civilian leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi faces 11 charges, with a possible maximum sentence of 102 years. She is currently on trial on most of these charges, with a first verdict expected in mid-December.