Prison tribunal presses further charge against Fenster

Prison tribunal presses further charge against Fenster

Frontier Myanmar editor, Danny Fenster, was yesterday denied bail and had a new charge added during a court hearing inside of Yangon’s Insein Prison. 

The third charge levied against the journalist has been brought under Section 13(1) of the Immigration Act (for illegal entry or overstay), CNN reported. 

Fenster has so far spent 164 days in custody after being arrested at Yangon International Airport whilst trying to leave the country. In what is considered by many to be a huge diplomatic blunder by the junta, the journalist was supposedly arrested based on work published before the coup, completed whilst he had been working at independent media outlet, Myanmar Now. 

Before the ruling, there had been hope that former US diplomat Bill Richardson, who visited Yangon yesterday, may have been intervening on behalf of the journalist. 

Although it is tempting to interpret this latest power play as another setback for those calling for the journalist’s release, in truth it is likely too early to discount anything—an optimist could argue that immigration charges are often levied by regimes looking to claim a legal victory to citizens whilst at the same time deporting a foreign detainee on diplomatic terms.

Since the February coup, independent media in Burma has been outlawed and around 50 Burmese journalists remain unjustly detained.