Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Bill Richardson says American journalist Danny Fenster has been released from prison in Myanmar.
Richardson said in a statement Monday that Fenster had been released from prison and handed over to him in Myanmar and would soon be on his way home via Qatar.
“This is the day that you hope will come when you do this work,” Richardson said. “We are so grateful that Danny will finally be able to reconnect with his loved ones, who have been advocating for him all this time, against immense odds.”
Fenster, the managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was convicted Friday of spreading false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating visa regulations and sentenced to 11 years of hard labor.
Fenster’s sentence was the harshest punishment yet among the seven journalists known to have been convicted since the military took power, with the State Department calling it “an unjust conviction of an innocent person.”
Prosecutors alleged that Fenster was still working for Myanmar Now, an independent news outlet that was banned after a military coup in February, while documentation showed he had been working for Frontier since August 2020.
“We are relieved that Danny is finally out of prison — somewhere he never should have been in the first place,” Frontier editor-in-chief Thomas Kean said in a statement on Twitter.
Kean added that Fenster “is one of many journalists in Myanmar who have been unjustly arrested simply for doing their job since the February coup. We call on the military regime to release all of the journalists who remain behind bars in Myanmar.”
Richardson says he negotiated Fenster’s release during a recent visit to Myanmar when he held face-to-face meetings with the military leader who ousted the elected government of Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on Feb. 1.
Jennifer Jett contributed.