American journalist Danny Fenster has been released from a Myanmar prison and will travel home to the U.S., former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson announced Monday after a humanitarian visit to negotiate on the editor’s behalf.
The Richardson Center, a nonprofit that promotes global peace and dialog, said the former governor spoke face to face with Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, a commander in Myanmar’s military junta.
Mr. Fenster‘s release comes days after the former managing editor of Frontier Myanmar was sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges that included visa breaches, unlawful association with an illegal group and violations that amount to the publication of “false news.”
His arrest at the Yangon International Airport on May 24 — he was trying to go visit family in the U.S. — caused an international uproar.
“This is the day that you hope will come when you do this work,” Mr. Richardson, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said following Mr. Fenster‘s release. “We are so grateful that Danny will finally be able to reconnect with his loved ones, who have been advocating for him all this time, against immense odds.”
The Richardson Center said Mr. Fenster, a 37-year-old from Detroit, will travel home through Qatar over the next day and a half and looks “forward to uniting Danny with his parents, Buddy and Rose, as well as his brother Bryan, in the United States.”
CNN reports that about 126 journalists or media workers have been detained since a military coup in Myanmar on Feb. 1, and 47 remain imprisoned, according to figures from the United Nations.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he welcomed Mr. Fenster’s release from Myanmar, “where he was wrongfully detained for almost six months,” though signaled a broad team worked on the case.
He commended the U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, Tom Vajda, and his team at the U.S. Embassy in Rangoon, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and experts at Consular Affairs alongside other partners, “including Governor Bill Richardson, who helped facilitate Danny’s release.”
“We are glad that Danny will soon be reunited with his family as we continue to call for the release of others who remain unjustly imprisoned in Burma,” Mr. Blinken said.