'It's over': U.S. journalist Danny Fenster arrives in N.Y. after release from Myanmar prison

NEW YORK – American journalist Danny Fenster, released after nearly six months in prison in military-ruled Myanmar, came to the United States on Tuesday for an emotional reunion with his family.

Fenster, who was sentenced to 11 years of forced labor last week, was handed over Monday to former US diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped negotiate his release. He is one of more than 100 journalists, media representatives or publishers jailed since the military was imprisoned since the elected government of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was overthrown in February.

It was a “long time ago, a moment that I had imagined so intensely for so long,” said a bearded and shaggy window after landing in New York. “Exceeds everything I imagined.”

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Window’s family was waiting for his arrival in the lobby of an airport hotel – and rushed outside to greet him when the SUV approached with him. His mother Rose hugged him in a long, tight hug as he got out of the vehicle.

“It’s over. There is nothing left to worry about,” Fenster later said in an interview. “Every bitter, bad will, every regret, every anger spread on the tarmac when I got on that plane . “

His wife, Julianna, who is still in Myanmar, will meet with him in Detroit.

Late Monday when he was traveling around Qatar, Window, 37, he told reporters that he was physically fine and that he had not been starved or beaten while in custody. During his detention, he had told his lawyer that he believed he had Covid-19, although prison authorities denied it.

Danny Fenster welcomed his mother Rose on Tuesday. Timothy A. Clary / AFP – Getty Images

Fenster, the editor-in-chief of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, was convicted on Friday of disseminating false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations and violating visa regulations. Days before his conviction, he learned that he had been charged with further violations that threatened him with life imprisonment.

It feels great to bring Danny back home. It is well worth the effort, all we’ve done, ”said Richardson, a former New Mexico governor and former ambassador to the United Nations who helped negotiate the release through his foundation.

Window’s mother described the ordeal as a “nightmare” and the family was relieved that it was over.

It “feels great, he’s sure that’s all we want,” said his father Buddy.

Window – in a knitted hat he said was a gift from another prisoner – joked that the first thing he would do was get his hair cut and shaved.

He also said he hoped his plight would help bring the world’s attention to the suffering of the people of Myanmar, where the army has responded brutally to peaceful protests opposed to the generals’ seizure of power.

According to the Relief Society for Political Prisoners, security forces have killed more than 1,200 civilians and arrested around 10,000 others. The takeover and the subsequent crackdown have resulted in convictions and sanctions from the United States and others.

Richardson said he made no promises in exchange for Window’s Freedom. “And they didn’t ask me anything,” he said.

'It's over': U.S. journalist Danny Fenster arrives in N.Y. after release from Myanmar prison 1

“I saw we made progress on the humanitarian issue and I focused on Danny and Aye Moe,” said Richardson, referring to a former Foundation employee who was also arrested and then released.

The White House thanked Richardson for leaving windows. “The United States welcomes the release of Danny Fenster from custody in Burma,” said Andrew Bates, deputy press secretary for the White House.

Fenster has been detained at Yangon International Airport since his arrest on May 24.

The exact allegations against him were never clear, but much of the prosecution’s case appeared to depend on his employment with another online news site that was ordered to shut down during the post-military raid on media that year. Fenster used to work for the location but left that job last year.

Window has a masters degree in creative writing from Wayne State University and worked for a newspaper in Louisiana before moving to Southeast Asia, according to Deadline Detroit, a news website he occasionally contributed to.

His older brother Bryan said he was particularly interested in the plight of the Rohingya Muslim minority people, hundreds of thousands of whom fled Myanmar during a brutal army’s 2017 counterinsurgency campaign.

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