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Man in Prison

American Journalist Danny Fenster Sentenced To 11 Years In Prison In Myanmar

A military court in Myanmar has sentenced Danny Fenster, a 37-year-old American journalist from Detroit, to 11 years in prison, according to a statement from his lawyer. Fester has been detained in Myanmar for more than 5 months now. 

Fester was denied bail and has been held in Insein Prison since his arrest on May 24th. Than Zaw Aung, Fester’s lawyer, claimed Fester was found guilty this week of three charges brought against him by the Myanmar military, which seized control of the country in a coup back in February. 

The charges against Fester include breaches, unlawful association with an illegal group, and incitement under section 505a of Myanmar’s Penal Code; which makes it a crime to publish or circulate comments that may “cause fear or spread false news.”

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About 100 journalists have been detained in the country since the coup, and about 30 remain behind bars. Fester’s lawyer also announced that he has now been hit with two new criminal charges under the nation’s sedition and terrorism laws, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. 

The new charges were made under Section 124a of Myanmer’s Penal Code, which mandates seven to 20 years in prison for attempting to bring hatred, contempt or disaffection toward the government or military.

The other charge is under “Section 50a of the Counter Terrorism Law, which makes it a crime to have contact with officially designated ‘terrorist’ groups. Under the terrorism charge, Fenster could face a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life in prison if convicted,” according to his lawyer and Myanmar’s sentencing guidelines.

Fester was initially arrested at Yangon International Airport while trying to leave the country to visit his family in the US. It was unclear why the charges were brought against the former managing editor of Frontier Myanmer. 

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Frontier Myanmar said in a statement posted on Facebook it was “deeply disappointed at the sentencing. Everyone at Frontier is disappointed and frustrated at this decision. We just want to see Danny released as soon as possible so he can go home to his family,” said Thomas Keen, Frontier’s Editor-in-Chief.

Frontier Myanmar said the “charges were based on the allegation that Fenster was working for banned media outlet Myanmar Now in the aftermath of the military coup. But Fenster had resigned from Myanmar Now in July 2020, and at the time of his arrest in May 2021 had been working with Frontier for more than nine months.”

“There is absolutely no basis to convict Danny of these charges. His legal team clearly demonstrated to the court that he had resigned from Myanmar Now and was working for Frontier from the middle of last year,” said Kean.

Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the sentence was a “travesty of justice executed by a kangaroo court operating at the beck and call of the Myanmar military junta.”

“The rationale for this outrageous, rights abusing sentence is really twofold: To intimidate all remaining journalists inside Myanmar by punishing Fenster this way, while at the same time sending a message to the US that the Tatmadaw generals don’t appreciate being hit with economic sanctions and can bite back with hostage diplomacy,” Robertson said.

“Journalism is not a crime, and it shouldn’t be treated that way — meaning that Danny Fenster and the many Burmese journalists still behind bars should urgently be freed.”

9 Arrested Over Plot To Plant Bombs Around Hong Kong 

This Tuesday Hong Kong police arrested nine people due to suspicion that they were engaging in terrorist activity. The officers made the arrest after it was uncovered that the group was attempting to make explosives to allegedly plant around the city. 

Hong Kong is currently rather politically divided, and the past two years have been especially futile. Massive pro-democracy protests have erupted all throughout the city, as well as China in general, and these arrests come just one year after Beijing imposed strict security laws. 

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Of the nine individuals arrested six of them are secondary school students. The group was attempting to make the explosive chemical triacetone triperoxide (TATP) in a homemade laboratory hostel, according to police reports. 

Police claimed “the group planned to use the TATP to bomb court buildings, cross-harbor tunnels, railways, and even planned to put some of these explosives in trash bins on the street to maximize damage caused by society.” 

The authorities said they seized an apparatus and raw materials that would typically be used to make the TATP, as well as trace amounts of the explosive as well. Operating manuals and about 80,000 Hong Kong dollars in cash was also taken in at the scene. 

Police froze around 600,000 Hong Kong dollars worth of assets that may also be linked to the bombing plot. The group was allegedly planning on setting off all the explosives as they left the city of Hong Kong for good.

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TATP is unfortunately a very common chemical among terrorist organizations and groups. Since 2019, Hong Kong police have made multiple arrests over alleged bomb plots and for making TATP illegally. 

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam spoke at a news briefing this week to discuss the threats of violence that Hong Kong is facing. 

“I hope members of the public will openly condemn threats of violence. They should not be wrongly influenced by the idea that there is only government tyranny. They should not be influenced into thinking that they can find excuses to inflict violence.”

Lam claimed that an envelope of white powder had been sent to her office but police concluded this Tuesday that the substance didn’t initially seem to be dangerous, but further tests would still be performed to make sure.