U.S. journalist was traveling home to surprise family when he was detained in Myanmar, his mother says

American journalist Danny Fenster was detained in Myanmar last month when he was traveling home early to surprise his family, his mother said on “CBS This Morning” Wednesday.

“He was supposed to come home in July for a visit. We haven’t seen him in over three years, to surprise his parents — us, my son, his niece and nephew, his 95-year-old grandmother who’s a Holocaust survivor,” Rose Fenster said. “He and my son Bryan were talking and this was a surprise to come in early like this, to surprise us.”

She called the situation “heartbreaking.”

The southeast Asian country once known as Burma is embroiled in a deadly internal conflict and an assault on democracy. A coup by Myanmar’s military that began four months ago has since left hundreds dead and thousands imprisoned, including leaders of the country’s elected government. 

The military junta is also detaining journalists — Danny Fenster is a Michigan native who has been working in Myanmar for years. 

His brother Bryan said his most recent job was managing editor at the outlet Frontier Myanmar, “making sure the translations to English were correct.”

“He was never at any protests or on the street reporting,” he said.

Danny was taken into custody nine days ago, his family says, while waiting for a flight out of the country at Yangon International Airport. 

Bryan Fenster first found out his brother had been detained through early morning messages from Danny’s wife.

Their mother said Bryan “couldn’t get ahold of her, but did get ahold of one of Danny’s coworkers, who filled him in that he was being detained and taken to Insein prison.”

Neither of them knows why Danny was taken.

“It can only be assumed, because he’s a journalist in a country where they want to shut them up, essentially, that he was detained,” Bryan Fenster said.

The Fensters have been in regular contact with the State Department and the U.S. embassy in Myanmar, but say there’s been a “lack of information” on Danny’s condition.

“Unfortunately, in Myanmar, there’s a regime that’s in power, and from our sense, there’s not much protocol and information, and processes move very slowly,” Bryan Fenster said.

They aim to continue to fight for his freedom, and urged Americans to “keep this story alive.”

“Danny needs to be free and sent home,” Rose Fenster said, adding that there was a petition currently available for her son’s release.

Bryan Fenster added, “Journalism is part of a thriving society, and we’re trying to speak out Danny’s name on behalf of that cause as well.”

“We are asking people to share on their socials — we have a hashtag, ‘Bring Danny Home.’ We also have a BringDannyHome.com website,” he said. “All to raise awareness and urge the administration to make this move a little quicker.”

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