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US editor jailed in Myanmar fears he has Covid: Lawyer

Bangkok, July 16

An American journalist detained in Myanmar told his lawyer he believes he has Covid, but prison authorities deny he is infected.

Danny Fenster was detained at Yangon International Airport on May 24 as he was trying to board a flight to go to the Detroit area in the United States to see his family. He is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, an independent online news outlet based in Yangon, Myanmar’s biggest city.

Fenster has been charged with incitement for which he could be sentenced up to three years’ imprisonment. The military-installed government that took power in February has tried to silence independent news media by withdrawing their licences and by arresting dozens of journalists.

The US government and press freedom associations have been pushing for Fenster’s release.

Fenster is being held in Insein Prison as Myanmar faces a coronavirus surge it is ill-equipped to fight, with a public health system in tatters due to the political turmoil that arose in reaction to the military’s ouster of the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi. It has a very small supply of Covid vaccines.

Health authorities on Thursday reported 4,188 new cases of the coronavirus, bringing Myanmar’s official total since the pandemic began last year to 212,545. There were 165 deaths recorded, bringing the total to 4,346.

Fenster’s lawyer, Than Zaw Aung, said his client told him during a video hearing that he is infected with the coronavirus and has not received medicines he requested.

Insein Prison began a two-week lockdown on July 8 due to the virus surge. Fenster participated in Thursday’s brief pre-trial hearing from the prison, while the lawyer took part from a township court. AP

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