(New York, NY) — In response to the news that Danny Fenster, a U.S. citizen and managing editor of the Frontier Myanmar news site, was detained by Myanmar military authorities as he attempted to board a flight out of the country at Yangon International Airport, PEN America’s Karin Deutsch Karlekar said the following:

“We are extremely concerned that the military junta’s crackdown on the media and free expression has widened to target foreign journalists, including those working the few independent media outlets still operating in Myanmar. Dozens of Myanmar reporters have been arrested since the February 1 coup, and scores more are under threat. PEN America calls for Danny Fenster to be released without charge and allowed to leave the country immediately, and for other journalists to be allowed to do their essential work freely, without fear of arrest or other forms of intimidation. At a crucial time of political crisis for the country, and as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, access to news and information is of the utmost importance.”

Since the coup on February 1, the military junta has cracked down on artists, writers, journalists, and other protestors via increasingly draconian digital, legal, and violent measures. Even before the coup, Myanmar ranked among the world’s top ten jailers of writers and public intellectuals, according to PEN America’s 2020 Freedom to Write Index, an alarming backdrop to the dramatic escalation of human rights abuses triggered by the coup earlier this year.