American journalist Danny Fenster was freed from a Myanmar prison on Monday.
His release follows negotiations between former U.S. diplomat Bill Richardson and Myanmar’s ruling military junta.
On his way home, Fenster, the managing editor of independent online magazine Frontier Myanmar, looked frail when making a stop in Doha, Qatar, with Richardson by his side.
Asked if he had been mistreated, Fenster said this:
"I was arrested and held in captivity for no reason, so I suppose so. But physically, I was healthy. I wasn’t starved or beaten."
Fenster was sentenced to 11 years in prison on Friday for incitement and violations of laws on immigration and unlawful assembly, a ruling that drew international condemnation.
He was among dozens of journalists detained in Myanmar since a Feb. 1st military coup that put an abrupt end to a decade of tentative steps towards democracy.
Richardson, a former congressman and governor of New Mexico, said efforts to work with the Myanmar government on humanitarian assistance, including on vaccines, led to Fenster’s release.
A military-owned TV network on Monday said he had been freed on (quote) “humanitarian grounds” at the request of Richardson and representatives from two Japanese organizations.
A source familiar with Richardson’s trip said it was arranged without the knowledge of the State Department or the U.S. embassy in Yangon.
A State Department spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Monday, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken commended U.S. officials as well as Richardson for facilitating Fenster's release.