WXYZ — Journalist and metro Detroit native Danny Fenster was sentenced to 11 years in prison by a court in military-ruled Myanmar overnight.
Fenster has been detained in Myanmar for more than five months. He was arrested in May while boarding a flight back to Detroit.
The court found him guilty on several charges, including incitement for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information. Other charges include visa breaches, unlawful association with an illegal group and incitement.
Under Myanmar law, it's a crime to publish or circulate comments that "cause fear" or spread "false news."
The charges were based on the allegation he worked at Myanmar Now, a banned media outlet in the aftermath of a coup on Feb. 1.
He resigned from that post in July 2020 and became managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an independent outlet that covers current affairs. He had been working there for nine months before his arrest.
His family and others in metro Detroit have been fighting for his release, ever since he was detained, saying they are heartbroken and just want Danny home.
Frontier Myanmar sent out a series of tweets saying, "the court disregarded a significant amount of evidence of his employment at Frontier, including tax and social security records and testimony from a Frontier employee. There is absolutely no bases to convict Danny of these charges. His legal team clearly demonstrated to the court he had resigned from Myanmar Now and was working for Frontier in the middle of last year.
"Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated at this decision. We just want to see Danny released as soon as possible so he can go home to his family," Frontier Editor In Chief Thomas Kean continued in the tweet. You can visit the website called https://bringdannyhome.com/ for the latest updates and information.
Fenster is also facing two additional charges under Myanmar's counter-terrorism law. The first carries a penalty of 7-20 years in prison, and the second has a minimum of 10 years in prison. Those will be held separately.
About 100 journalists had been detained in Myanmar since the coup, and about 30 remain behind bars.