Journalist Fenster returns home to Detroit area after Myanmar ordeal
Huntington Woods – American journalist Danny Fenster, released after nearly six months in prison in military-ruled Myanmar, said he felt “incredibly lucky” to be home in suburban Detroit after his unsafe time behind bars.
Fenster, 37, was greeted by family and friends on Tuesday evening when he returned to Huntington Woods. He was sentenced to 11 years of forced labor in Myanmar last week but turned over on Monday to former US diplomat Bill Richardson, who helped negotiate his release.
He has been detained at Yangon International Airport since his arrest on May 24th.
“I feel incredibly happy to be at home. I can’t believe how much effort has gone into this – an overwhelming gratitude, “said Fenster, who returned to the US on Tuesday on a flight to New York.
Fenster, editor-in-chief of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, is one of more than 100 journalists, media representatives or publishers jailed since the Myanmar military overthrew the elected government of Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi in February.
He was convicted of disseminating false or inflammatory information, contacting illegal organizations, and violating visa requirements. Days before his conviction, Fenster learned that he had been charged with further violations that threatened him with life imprisonment.
Now bearded and shaggy, Fenster said he spent his time in jail “reading a lot. Sitting around a lot and thinking and staring at walls. “
He said his wife’s fortnightly visits kept him sane while he was in detention. She remains in Myanmar but is expected to be back in the US before Thanksgiving.
“She came when she let her, which was every other week, and she delivered me a huge food package and we wrote love letters,” he said.
Fenster said his release would not have been possible without the help of his older brother Bryan, and said he worked tirelessly with Michigan United States MP Andy Levin and others to secure his release.
“We’ve always been incredibly close,” he said of his brother.