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Fenster family says imprisoned journalist 'in good form and unharmed'

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

Washington — Michigan native and journalist Danny Fenster, who has been imprisoned in Myanmar for the last month, was able to speak by phone for the first time this week with the U.S. Embassy in Yangon.

"While we still don't know much, by all accounts, he seems to be in good form and unharmed," his brother Bryan said late Wednesday on Facebook

"We're cautiously optimistic that we're on the right track and hopefully we will be able to speak with him soon. One thing is for sure, we will not stop until we #BringDannyHome."

Bryan said the family received word late Tuesday that his brother had "finally" been granted access to consular officials at the American embassy.

Danny Fenster

A State Department spokesman said Thursday that consular officers spoke with Fenster by phone Wednesday.

"Daniel is in good health," the spokesman said. "We urge the Burmese regime to ensure proper treatment of Daniel while he remains detained. We are closely monitoring the progression of Daniel’s case."

Fenster, 37, was stopped by authorities at Yangon International Airport on May 24 as he was about to board a flight to Malaysia on his way to the Detroit area to see his family in Huntington Woods.

Fenster, who is managing editor of the online magazine Frontier Myanmar, had a hearing last week and his detention at Yangon’s Insein Prison was extended at least two more weeks until his next hearing on July 1.

He faces a charge that carries a potential three-year prison term and criminalizes “any attempt to cause fear, spread false news, or agitate directly or indirectly a criminal offense against a government employee."

"I was relieved that Danny sounds physically healthy and unharmed, but we continue to demand that our embassy get to see Danny in person, and I share the Fensters’ concern about the mental and spiritual toll this unjust imprisonment must be taking on Danny," U.S. Rep. Andy Levin tweeted on Thursday. 

Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, represents the Fenster family in Congress. 

The state House Committee on Government Operations in Lansing on Wednesday advanced a resolution urging the Biden administration and U.S. Department of State to act with the "utmost urgency to secure the release of American journalist Danny Fenster from Myanmar and return him safely to the United States."

mburke@detroitnews.com