An American journalist detained in Myanmar since May remains in prison following another virtual court appearance Thursday as he faces allegations of working to foment dissent against the country’s military government.
Danny Fenster, who is the managing editor of the website Frontier Myanmar, is being held for allegedly violating section 505-A of the country’s penal code.
If he is found guilty, he could face up to three years in prison.
“Nothing to report," his brother Bryan Fenster, told the website Deadline Detroit following Thursday’s appearance. "There's no indication when they will charge, if they will charge and what evidence they have," he said.
He also told the local digital news publication the family was worried about a new wave of COVID-19 hitting the country.
Bryan told Deadline Detroit he’d “heard prison guards and personnel are getting sick and are on leave."
In an email to cable channel CNBC, a State Department spokesperson wrote, “We are concerned with rising COVID-19 infection rates in Burma and urge the military regime to release Daniel now in light of declining public health conditions.”
Another hearing is scheduled two weeks from now.
“We remain deeply concerned over the continued detention of U.S. citizen Daniel Fenster, who was working as a journalist in Burma. We have pressed the military regime to release Daniel immediately and will continue to do so until he returns home safely to his family,” the State Department wrote, according to CNBC.
Fenster was arrested May 24 at Yangon’s airport as he tried to leave the country.
Another American journalist, Nathan Maung, who was detained in March for allegedly violating 505-A, was released Monday and left the country.
Two Myanmar journalists were jailed for two years under the law, The Associated Press reported in June.
The military took power February 1, overthrowing the civilian government and detaining de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other high-ranking officials.
Since the coup, widespread protests have rocked Myanmar, many of them turning violent as government officials cracked down. Hundreds of civilians, including dozens of children, have been killed by government troops and police since the coup.
The U.S. has sanctioned military leaders, some of their family members and other businesses in the country.
The U.S. has also called for the immediate release of Suu Kyi, leader of the National League for Democracy Party, ousted President Win Myint, and protesters, journalists and human rights activists it says have been unjustly detained since the coup.
Military officials claimed widespread fraud in last November’s general election, which Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won in a landslide, as justification for the February takeover. The fraud allegations have been denied by Myanmar’s electoral commission.
Source: Voice of America