politics

Family of Imprisoned American Journalist in Myanmar ‘Very Very Concerned' for His Health as Covid Levels Surge

Reuters
  • Danny Fenster is an American journalist who was detained May 24 at Yangon International Airport in Myanmar.
  • Bryan Fenster, Danny’s older brother, said that Danny was displaying Covid symptoms earlier last week when his parents spoke with him.
  • “No treatment, no testing, so we're very frustrated, very, very concerned,” said Bryan Fenster said.

The family of Danny Fenster, a U.S. journalist who has been detained in Myanmar since May, is raising concerns about his health, as Covid-19 levels surge across the country. 

Bryan Fenster, Fenster's older brother, told CNBC's "The News with Shepard Smith" that Fenster was displaying Covid symptoms earlier last week, when his parents spoke with him. Bryan said that there was no indication of any actions being taken to help his brother. 

"No treatment, no testing, so we're very frustrated, very, very concerned," said Bryan.

In an email to CNBC, a State Department spokesperson wrote, "We are concerned with rising COVID-19 infection rates in Burma and urge the military regime to release Daniel now in light of declining public health conditions."

Danny Fenster, 37, is managing editor of the news magazine "Frontier Myanmar." He was detained May 24 at Yangon International Airport before he could board a plane to Kuala Lumpur, just a few months after the February coup where the military seized control of the country from its democratically-elected government. 

The military government accused Fenster of inciting violence, charges he denies. Fenster appeared in court last month and is facing a potential three-year prison sentence. His next hearing is set for Thursday. 

Bryan told host Shepard Smith that there is "no indication whatsoever" the country's legal system could lead to Fenster's release. 

"Unfortunately, all these hearings, we haven't gotten any heads up, any information," said Bryan. "He shows up, they're speaking Burmese, he doesn't really understand what's going on, and they remand him back to prison."

A State Department spokesperson told CNBC that a consular officer attended Daniel's procedural hearing on July 1, and that his next hearing was scheduled for July 15.

"We are closely monitoring the progression of Daniel's case," the spokesperson wrote. "Consular officers spoke with Daniel for the third time by phone on July 9. Members of his family were also on the call. We urge the Burmese regime to ensure proper treatment of Daniel while he remains detained."

Bryan added that he wanted Fenster to know that his family is "not resting until he is home." 

The State Department underscored that the welfare and safety of U.S. citizens abroad is one of the U.S. government's highest priorities.

"We remain deeply concerned over the continued detention of U.S. citizen Daniel Fenster, who was working as a journalist in Burma. We have pressed the military regime to release Daniel immediately and will continue to do so until he returns home safely to his family," the State Department wrote.

The Myanmar embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to CNBC's requests for comment.

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