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Myanmar Court sentences U.S. journalist to 11 Years in Jail

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Posted at 8:40 PM, Nov 12, 2021

A journalist with ties to Acadiana is sentenced to 11 years in prison in Myanmar, despite international pressure.

Friday night, the State Department condemned that sentence.

Danny Fenster has been working in Myanmar since June of last year, but for the past five months, he's been in prison. Fenster is accused of spreading false news, visa breaches, and unlawful association with an illegal group.

Fenster previously worked at The Current and The Daily Iberian. Colleagues and others are now joining the calls for his release.

“He has a real sense of moral compass that drives his interest in journalism.”

Christiaan Mader is the founder of The Current, where Danny Fenster worked briefly as a freelance writer. Mader says Fenster was drawn to Iberia Parish.

“My impression was he landed in New Iberia because he felt like it was a place that didn't get a lot of coverage. He was really interested in the major criminal justice issues that had come out of that area,” Mader added.

Fenster made his mark in Iberia Parish. After news of his arrest, some in the community held a vigil calling for his release - calls they will amplify following his conviction.

"He's been able to be the voice of those who thought that their voices were not being heard and silenced. He's our brother, and we just want our brother home,” said Robby Bethel, a community activist with the West End Council of Neighborhood Associations of New Iberia (WECNA).

Bethel worked closely with Fenster during his time in Iberia Parish.

The State Department is calling the verdict an unjust conviction of an innocent person and said they’re working to secure his release.

"Danny finds himself in the middle of it and he has very, very little to do with it. Other than being an American reporting on these issues in a way that criticizes that government,” said Mader.

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