An American editor for a Myanmar-based media outlet was arrested by authorities in Yangon as he tried to board a flight out of the country on Monday, his employers said.
U.S. citizen and Frontier Myanmar editor-in-chief Danny Fenster was the international airport, his employers said in a statement on their verified Twitter account.
“We don’t know why Danny was detained and haven’t been able to contact him since this morning. We are concerned for his well-being and call for his immediate release, ”Frontier said.
“Our priorities right now are to make sure he’s safe and to give him all the help he needs. “
Myanmar has been in turmoil since the February 1 coup, with almost daily protests and a nationwide civil disobedience movement.
More than 800 people have been killed by the military, according to a local watch group.
The press has been caught up in the junta’s crackdown as the military attempts to tighten control over the flow of information, limiting internet access and revoking the licenses of five local media outlets.
Fenster, 37, had worked for the outlet for about a year and was returning home to see his family, Frontier editor-in-chief Thomas Kean told AFP.
“We learned around 10 am that Danny had not been allowed to board his flight from Yangon airport,” he said.
At least 34 journalists and photographers remain in detention across Myanmar, according to monitoring group Reporting ASEAN.
Frontier said he understood Fenster had been transferred to the notorious Insein Prison in Yangon.
Japanese journalist Yuki Kitazumi was arrested by Myanmar authorities last month and held in the same prison until his release last week.
Upon his return to Tokyo, he said that political prisoners in the prison told him they had been tortured with beatings and sleep deprivation.
In March, a BBC journalist was briefly detained after being arrested by plainclothes officers while reporting outside a court in the capital Naypyidaw.
Separately, Polish photojournalist Robert Bociaga – who was also arrested while covering protests – was released in March after nearly fifteen days in detention.
The arrest comes as detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi expressed her defiance on Monday in her first court appearance since her detention during the coup, vowing that her ousted political party would live on.
In the Reporters Without Borders 2021 Press Freedom Index, Myanmar ranked 140th out of 180 countries.
Since the February coup, journalists in Myanmar “have been the subject of systematic arrest and censorship campaigns,” the watchdog said.
“Many will resign themselves to working underground in order to be free to report what is happening and to escape the police.”
© 2021 AFP