The editor-in-chief of Frontier magazine has been charged with a number of crimes including incitement, sedition and “terrorism”.
Danny Fenster, a journalist for Myanmar’s Frontier magazine, was jailed for 11 years by a military-controlled court in the country.
The 37-year-old was arrested at Yangon airport in May, and found guilty on three counts, his employer said in a statement.
Frontier said the decision was announced Friday morning outside Yangon’s Insein prison, following a trial closed to the press and the public. The sentences – for incitement and contact with opposition groups declared illegal by the military – were the “harshest possible” under the law, he said.
The allegations were linked to a claim that Fenster was working for Myanmar Now, even though he left the online media in June last year.
Window joined Frontier, of which he is managing editor, in July 2020. Frontier noted that the court had ignored key evidence, including tax documents, which confirmed Window’s hiring at the magazine.
“There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny for these charges,” Frontier editor-in-chief Thomas Kean wrote in the statement shared on social media.
“His legal team clearly demonstrated to the court that he had resigned from Myanmar Now and had been working for Frontier since the middle of last year. Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated with this decision. “
The ruling comes days after Bill Richardson, a former US diplomat and hostage negotiator, met with coup leader Min Aung Hlaing, and after prosecutors targeted Fenster with additional charges of ‘terrorism’ and sedition.
-Andrea Nachemson (@ANachemson) November 12, 2021
My colleague was sentenced to 11 years in prison and faces further charges. Everyone at Frontier is horrified by this verdict and hopes this injustice will be rectified soon so that Danny can go home to his family. https://t.co/IEDmvcLbjG
– Aye Min Thant (@the_ayeminthant) November 12, 2021
On February 1, the military arrested elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other senior officials, seizing power. The move sparked mass protests and a civil disobedience movement to which the generals responded by force, killing more than 1,250 people and detaining at least 10,000, according to the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners, which monitored the situation.
Phil Robertson, Human Rights Watch’s deputy director for Asia, said the court’s decision was “outrageous.”
“(The) charges against him are made up and bogus, he has committed no crimes!” Robertson wrote on Twitter.
After the coup, the military also imposed internet blackout, shut down satellite television and cracked down on independent media, revoking publishing licenses for a number of Myanmar news outlets, including Myanmar Now.
Window is among about 100 journalists detained since February. About 30 remain in prison.
In June, two journalists – one from Mizzima and one from DVB – were there incarcerated under a colonial-era law that the generals had revised to make the dissemination of “fake news” a crime.