BANGKOK — Nathan Maung U.S. journalist who was imprisoned three months ago while working for a local online news agency, was freed by a Myanmar court on Monday, according to his lawyer.
Maung was released after the allegations against him were withdrawn and his case was dismissed, and his lawyer, Tin Zar Oo, said he will be deported on Tuesday. Hanthar Nyein, a Myanmar national who was detained alongside him at Kamayut Media, is still in prison, she claimed.
Danny Fenster, an American journalist who worked for a news magazine in Myanmar, is still detained. Fenster is the managing editor of Frontier Myanmar, a print and online publication that publishes in both English and Burmese. On June 24, he was held at Yangon’s airport as he prepared to board an aircraft to Malaysia en way to join his family in the Detroit area.
Myanmar’s military junta, which seized power in February after deposing Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratic government, has encountered widespread resistance to its authority and is attempting to suppress any dissent. Critical media voices have been silenced or driven underground.
The US government and human rights organizations have urged the junta to respect freedom of expression and to refrain from harassing and arresting journalists. It lobbied for Maung and Fenster’s release on several occasions.
The junta has also detained two more international journalists. Robert Bociaga of Poland and Yuki Kitazumi of Japan, both freelancers, have now been deported.
On March 9, Maung, the editor-in-chief of the Kamayut website, and Hanthar Nyein, a news producer, were detained. They were detained in a military interrogation center in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, before being transported to Insein Prison, the country’s major political imprisonment institution.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, the two men who co-founded the news organization were charged under a section of the penal code that punishes “dissemination of information or ‘fake news’ that could agitate or cause security forces or officials to mutiny” with a maximum three-year prison sentence.
Nathan Maung is being kept an extra day for a COVID-19 test, according to Tin Zar Oo, before flying out of the country on Tuesday. She claims he can get the most of his possessions, but $1,600 and $4,250 in Myanmarese cash are gone.