Myanmar court hears final arguments in case of US journalist

·2-min read
FILE - In this 2018, photo, U.S. journalist Danny Fenster works out of his van that he made into a home/office in Detroit. A court in Myanmar on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021, rejected the bail application of Fenster, an American journalist jailed for the past five months in Myanmar, and added a new charge against him, his lawyer said. Fenster, 37, already was charged with incitement, also known as sedition, for allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information. That offense is punishable by up to three years in prison. (Fenster Family photo via AP, File)

BANGKOK (AP) — A court in Myanmar on Wednesday heard closing arguments in the case of Danny Fenster, a U.S. journalist jailed in Myanmar for more than five months on charges of breaking security laws, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Than Zaw Aung said the court in the city of Yangon will deliver its verdict next Monday.

Regardless of the verdict, Fenster still faces more legal problems.

New charges against him were added by another Yangon court on Tuesday. One of them comes under the Counter-Terrorism Act and is punishable by 10 years to life in prison. The other is from a section of the Penal Code referring to treason and sedition and carries a penalty of seven to 20 years’ imprisonment.

Fenster is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an online news magazine based in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city. He was detained at Yangon International Airport on May 24 as he was about to board a flight to go to the Detroit area in the United States to see his family.

His current trial is on multiple charges, including incitement, or allegedly spreading false or inflammatory information, which is punishable by up to three years in prison.

He was also charged with violating the Unlawful Associations Act for contacting opposition groups that were declared illegal by the military-installed government. The offense carries a penalty of two to three years’ imprisonment. A charge of violating visa conditions added earlier this month is punishable by six months to five years’ imprisonment.

Fenster was among about 100 journalists detained since a Feb. 1 military takeover ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. About 30 remain in jail.

Fenster’s trial is closed to the media and the public, and details have been relayed only by his lawyer. Details of what he is accused of are still unclear, but at least part of the case against him seems based on incorrect information held by the authorities about whom he has been employed by this year.

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