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American Journalist Detained in Myanmar

Frontier Myanmar managing editor Danny Fenster is seen in an undated photo from the site.
Frontier Myanmar managing editor Danny Fenster is seen in an undated photo from the site.

A U.S. journalist working for a news magazine in Myanmar has been detained by authorities, according to his news organization.

Frontier Myanmar said on Twitter that its managing editor, Danny Fenster, was detained Monday at the main Yangon International Airport while preparing to board a flight to Malaysia and was transferred to Yangon's Insein Prison.

"We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him," the news magazine said.

"We are concerned for his well-being and call for his immediate release. Our priorities now are to make sure he is safe and provide him with whatever assistance he needs," it said.

Frontier Myanmar publishes in both English and Burmese and is one of the country's top independent news sites.

Family of US Journalist Jailed in Myanmar Calls for His Safe Return
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A State Department spokesman said the United States is aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained in Myanmar.

“We take seriously our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad, and are monitoring the situation,” the spokesman said.

Fenster's brother, Bryan, said in a Facebook post Monday, "We’re absolutely stunned and extremely confused as to why Dan was detained."

There was no response from authorities.

Fenster is a 37-year-old native of the Detroit, Michigan area who joined Frontier Myanmar last year.

Media rights group, the Committee to Protect Journalists, called for Fenster’s immediate release.

“This unlawful restriction of a foreign journalist’s freedom of movement is the latest grave threat to press freedom in Myanmar,” it said.

The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand said in a statement that it is “deeply concerned” to learn of the detention of Fenster.

In Reporters Without Borders’ latest World Press Freedom Index, Myanmar ranks 140th out of 180 countries, where 1 is the freest. The media watchdog said earlier this year that the military coup in Myanmar could set the country’s journalists back 10 years.

Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military seized power in a February 1 coup, with nearly daily protests across the country. During the coup, de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi was deposed.

She faces multiple criminal charges. The coup happened nearly three months after Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy won elections in a landslide. The junta alleges electoral fraud, a charge the civilian electoral commission denies.

Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says more than more than 800 protesters and bystanders have been killed by the military since the coup began and more than 4,300 people have been detained.

A United Nations spokesperson in May called on Myanmar to free dozens of detained journalists. The spokesperson said more than 80 members of the media have been arrested since the coup, and that the military has revoked operating licenses for six major news outlets.

Myanmar in April detained a Japanese freelance journalist, Yuki Kitazumi, who was covering the aftermath of the coup. Authorities released Kitazumi on May 14 and returned him to Japan in a move the junta described as a gesture of friendship to Tokyo, the Associated Press reported.

VOA's Jessica Jerreat and Aru Pande contributed to this story.

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