SPJ demands release of American journalist from Myanmar
Matthew T. Hall, SPJ National President, 619-987-7786, email@example.com
Zoë Berg, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, firstname.lastname@example.org
INDIANAPOLIS – The Society of Professional Journalists demands the release of American journalist Danny Fenster who was detained in Myanmar by local authorities last week. Myanmar’s treatment of Fenster is unacceptable.
"Fenster should be released, unharmed, immediately," said SPJ National President Matthew T. Hall. "It's a cliche to say the world is watching, but it's true. This is reprehensible."
Fenster, a United States citizen originally from Detroit, is the managing editor for the news site Frontier Myanmar in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city. He was stopped at the Yangon airport as he tried to board a flight out of the country on his way to the U.S., CNN reported.
A statement from Frontier Myanmar said it does not know why Fenster was detained and that it has been unable to contact him. His colleagues believe he was transferred to Insein Prison in Yangon, which is notorious for its human rights abuses and deplorable conditions.
A U.S. Department of State official said the agency was monitoring the situation but did not provide further details. His family started a petition on MoveOn to keep pressure on American politicians to get him back to the U.S. SPJ urges the U.S. government to help secure Fenster’s release and safe return.
The detainment of Fenster shows Myanmar’s continued disregard for press freedom. SPJ has expressed concern about this disturbing trend, voicing frustration after the military shut down access to most social media platforms and again when six journalists were criminally charged.
The SPJ Rio Grande Chapter has raised $2,400 in the last month to support journalists in Myanmar and continues to accept donations.
SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to informing citizens; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and fights to protect First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Support excellent journalism and fight for your right to know. Become a member, give to the Legal Defense Fund or give to the SPJ Foundation.