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Journalist Fenster reunited with family in New York, pledges to work for detained in Myanmar -Breaking


© Reuters. After negotiations between Bill Richardson, an ex-American diplomat, and Myanmar’s ruling military junta, Danny Fenster, American journalist, was freed from prison Monday. He is pictured with his father Buddy, mother Rose, and brother Bryan after he arrived.


Simon Lewis, Humeyra Pamuk

(Reuters] – Danny Fenster, a Journalist from Myanmar had a touching reunion with his loved ones on Tuesday when he returned to the United States after five months imprisonment in a Myanmar jail cell.

Fenster, who is 37 years old, was still wearing the red wool hat that his fellow prisoner gave him. He said at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, that he feels “incredible” having been released on Monday, despite an eleven-year sentence he received just three days before.

He said, “It is about this right now,” as he hugged his family, including mother Rose and father Buddy. They hail from a Detroit suburb.

Fenster was joined by Bill Richardson (ex-Gouvernor of New Mexico), who flew Monday to Myanmar to pick up Fenster. Richardson had been in talks with Min Aung Hlaing about humanitarian aid and COVID-19 vaccinations, which Richardson claimed helped to secure Fenster’s freedom.

Fenster expressed gratitude to those who had campaigned to release him and stated that he would continue to shine a spotlight on the detained journalists in Myanmar. According to United Nations, there are at most 47 others.

Fenster stated, “I am going to have time to celebrate, to spend time in my family, and then continue to concentrate on all the other… journalists or prisoners of conscience.”

A rights group called the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners claims that 10,143 people have been detained since Myanmar’s February coup. These include ordinary Burmese who participated in protests against military rule.

Fenster said, “This will only be a brief celebration, but let’s not lose sight of the real story here.”

Fenster said that in Yangon’s Insein Prison, he was happy and kept his spirits up by reading, jogging, and running around in the courtyard. In a joke, he said that he didn’t know if Frontier Myanmar was his employer.

Richardson was a private citizen who went to Myanmar for the first time as an individual. He said that he made four meetings with the chief of the junta and achieved progress in getting vaccines and humanitarian aid into Myanmar. The coup halted plans to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

Richardson stated, “I believe those conversations led to some understanding about the case of Danny.”

These trips were criticized for granting legitimacy to the junta by the ex-ambassador of the United States to the United Nations, which critics claim is not the legitimate government in Myanmar.

You know what (Myanmar’s) government officials wanted me to exchange for Danny? Nothing. They did not ask for me to do anything. It was impossible for me to deliver anything,” he stated, and he turned towards Fenster who was seated beside him.

Myanmar’s government has taken power away from its elected leaders and has cracked down on protests. Around 1,260 people were killed by violence and most of them were shot by security personnel.

The election commission ignored the complaints by Aung San Suu Kyi of fraud committed by her National League for Democracy (which won last year’s election by a huge margin). International condemnation of the coup and crackdown by the NLD, which claims it won fairly, has been widespread.