U.S. journalist held by Myanmar’s military junta for three months is RELEASED and deported after ‘spreading misinformation’ charges are dropped
- Journalist Nathan Maung was working for a local agency when he was arrested
- Maung and colleague Hanthar Nyein were held in jailfor political prisoners
- It was reported the pair, who work for the Kamayut werebsite, were tortured
- Muang was released after charges of ‘spreading misinformation’ were dropped
- Hanthar Nyein, who is a Myanmar national, continues to be held in prison
- Another US journalist Danny Fenster also remains in custody in Myanmar
A US journalist held by Myanmar’s military junta for three months has been released and deported after ‘fake news that could cause mutiny’ charges were dropped.
Nathan Maung was jailed while working for local online news agency Kamayut Media, one of nearly 100 journalists detained following the coup in February.
The American and his colleague, Burmese national Hanthar Nyein, suffered two weeks of torture while they were interrogated for ‘spreading misinformation,’ according to CNN. Nyein remains in prison.
Another US journalist, Danny Fenster, remains in custody after he was arrested while working as the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar which published both in English and Burmese.
He was detained at Rangoon airport on June 24 as he was preparing to board a flight to Malaysia en route to the Detroit area to see his family.
Journalist Nathan Maung, left, with his colleague Hanthar Nyein
Danny Fenster, 37, the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, one of the country’s top independent news sites, was detained at the main international gateway in Yangon while preparing to fly to Malaysia, Frontier said on Twitter
Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power in February after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, has faced broad opposition to its rule and seeks to quell all dissent. Critical media voices have been forced underground or into exile.
Maung and Nyein, who co-founded Kamayut Media, were charged under a section of the penal code that punishes ‘dissemination of information or ‘fake news’ that could agitate or cause security forces or officials to mutiny’ with a maximum three-year prison term, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Maung’s lawyer said he is being held an extra day for a COVID-19 test before taking a flight out of the country on Tuesday.
She said he is able to reclaim most of his belongings, but that $1,600 and about $4,250 in Myanmar’s currency are missing.
Fellow American Fenster remains in Rangoon’s Insein Prison, a detention center where the ruling military junta has confined its political enemies.
‘We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him,’ Frontier Myanmar said last month.
‘We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities now are to make sure he is safe and provide him with whatever assistance he needs.
Bryan Fenster, Danny’s brother, told the Detroit Free Press that he was en route back to the United States to visit his family when he was detained.
‘We’re just praying for his safety,’ Bryan said.
‘We just hope he’s healthy, that he’s being looked after and that this mess is rectified as soon as possible.’
Bryan is asking for the public’s help in spreading the word about his brother’s arrest in the hope that it will expedite his release.
He said his brother has a ‘passion for journalism and how the written word could spark change.’
‘He’s got a heart and passion for human rights and social justice, definitely a concerned world citizen.’
According to Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, about 90 journalists have been arrested since the army´s takeover, with more than half still in detention, and 33 in hiding.
The U.S. government and rights groups have urged the junta to respect freedom of expression and stop harassment and arrests of journalists. It pressed repeatedly for the release of Maung and Fenster.
Two other foreign journalists have been arrested by the junta. Freelancers Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan have since been deported.
Maung, the Kamayut website’s editor-in-chief, and Hanthar Nyein, a news producer, were arrested on March 9.
They were held at a military interrogation center in Yangon, Myanmar´s biggest city, before being transferred to Insein Prison, the country´s main detention facility for political prisoners.
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