Saturday, April 1, 2023

Myanmar court rejects US journalist’s bail, adds new charge

A Myanmar court on Wednesday rejected the bail plea of ​​American journalist Danny Fenster, who has been in prison for the past five months, and added a new charge against him.

Fenster was charged with allegedly abetting the spread of false or inflammatory information, a crime punishable by up to three years in prison. He is also accused of violating the Unlawful Association Act for his alleged links to illegal opposition groups, which can carry a prison sentence of two to three years.

His lawyer Than Jae Aung said a new charge of violation of immigration law was added on Wednesday under a catch-all provision that carries a prison sentence of six months to five years for violating visa conditions.

The court action comes during a visit by former US ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson to Myanmar. He said he was on a mission to discuss humanitarian aid to conflict-torn Myanmar with the leaders of his military-established government.

Myanmar has been mired in violence and civil unrest since the military seized power in February, ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. Protesters against the takeover, who faced beatings, shootings and arrests, have rapidly turned into armed resistance, and insurgents are active in many parts of the country.

Richardson’s visit raised hopes that he might seek Fenster’s release because he is known for his past efforts to secure the freedom of Americans detained in countries with which Washington has poor relations, such as North Korea.

The United States is highly critical of military rule in Myanmar and has imposed diplomatic and economic sanctions targeting its military leadership.

Fenster, managing editor of the online news magazine frontier myanmar, was detained at Yangon International Airport on May 24 as he was about to fly to the Detroit area in the United States to see his family. It is still unclear why he was arrested, although charges include his work at his previous employer, another online news service, which he left in the middle of last year.

His application for release on sedition charges was rejected on Wednesday by the judge, who said it was not allowed under the law, his lawyer said.

Than Jae Aung also said he examined seven prosecution witnesses on Wednesday for charges of incitement and unlawful association, including police and airport security personnel.

He did not give details of his testimony.

Court hearings at Yangon’s Insen Prison, where Fenster is incarcerated, are closed to the media and the public. The defense has not yet presented its side.

Than Jo Aung said the judge ruled on Wednesday that the court would hold sessions every week starting this Friday to expedite the trial.


This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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