Journalist From Metro Detroit Jailed by Myanmar Military

May 24, 2021, 9:27 AM by  Allan Lengel

Danny Fenster

Danny Fenster, a Metro Detroit native and the managing editor of a Myanmar publication, was arrested Monday by that nation's military and was being detained in a prison.

Fenster, 37, who was en route to Metro Detroit to visit family, has been an occasional contributor to Deadline Detroit, last writing in 2020 about an Eminem-obsessed restaurateur in Myanmar.

His employer, Frontier Myanmar, an English language biweekly news and business magazine, issued a statement saying he was detained at Yangon International Airport and transferred to Insein Prison in Yangon, where political prisoners are held.

"We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him since this morning," the statement said. "We are concerned for his well-being and call for his immediate release. Our priorities right now are to make sure he is safe and to provide him with whatever assistance he needs."

Update: Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., tweets Monday night that he's "disturbed" by the detention. "My office is in touch with his family in Michigan, and we will continue to closely monitor the situation."

Fenster's detainment follows a February military coup and the killing of scores of civilians who've demonstrated against it. The junta in power has also cracked down on media, arresting at least 80 reporters — half of whom remain detained — and recently sentencing one to three years in prison. It has also banned a number of media outlets, including one where Fenster previoulsy worked, Myanmar Now.

Another Myanmar Now reporter was detained in the same prison as Fenster in late February. Her family has said they've been barred from seeing her and fear for her safety given the reportedly harsh conditions there.

Fenster is the fourth foreign journalist to be detained by the military junta, and the first American, according to the Associated Press. The others were expelled.

Fenster is a Berkley High School graduate and has a master's degree in creative writing from Wayne State University. He lived in Detroit before taking a reporter job at the Daily Iberian in New Iberia, La. He later moved to Southeast Asia.

"We’re absolutely stunned and extremely confused as to why Dan was detained," his brother, Bryan Fenster of Huntington Woods, posted on Facebook Monday morning. "We’re grateful to his family in Yangon, the Embassy, his friends/co-workers at Frontier Myanmar and the many people on the ground who are helping him. We love you so much, Dan."

The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for Fenster's immediate release.

"This unlawful restriction of a foreign journalist’s freedom of movement is the latest grave threat to press freedom in Myanmar," said Shawn Crispin, the organization's senior Southeast Asia representative.


Read more:  Deadine Detroit

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