Danny Fenster, 37, was stopped at the Yangon airport as he tried to board a flight out of the country, his brother Bryan Fenster told CNN.
Fenster, a US citizen originally from Detroit, Michigan, lives in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, and works for the news site Frontier Myanmar.
“Frontier’s managing editor, Danny Fenster, was detained at Yangon International Airport this morning shortly before he was due to board a flight to Kuala Lumpur,” the news organization said in a statement.
“We do not know why Danny was detained and have not been able to contact him since this morning. We are concerned for his wellbeing and call for his immediate release. Our priorities right now are to make sure he is safe and to provide him with whatever assistance he needs,” the statement said.
The news organization also said Fenster has been transferred to Insein Prison, one of the country’s most notorious political prisons, known for its deplorable condition and situated near to Yangon.
Bryan Fenster said his brother was flying to the US to surprise his parents, whom he had not seen for over two years. The family had been concerned about the safety of being a journalist in Myanmar following February’s military coup
, and felt shocked and worried at the news of his detention, Bryan said, calling it a “nightmare.”
A US Department of State official said the agency is aware of the news. “We are aware of reports of a U.S. citizen detained in Burma. We take seriously our responsibility to assist U.S. citizens abroad, and are monitoring the situation. Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”
The detention comes months after the Myanmar military seized power in a coup
on February 1 when they arrested civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically-elected figures, cut Internet access and took news channels off the air.
The military justified their takeover by alleging widespread voter fraud during the November 2020 general election, which gave Suu Kyi’s party National League for Democracy (NLD) another overwhelming victory. But analysts said the coup was in truth driven by power and the personal ambition of an army chief who felt he was losing control and respect
The takeover led to mass protests, and state security forces responded with a brutal crackdown against any perceived opposition to its rule. The junta has shot peaceful protesters
and detained more than 2,100 people, including journalists, activists, and government officials, often in nighttime raids, according to advocacy group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).