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American journalist Danny Fenster was detained in Myanmar May 24 as he prepared for a flight back home.

An American journalist who was detained last week in the Southeast Asian country of Myanmar has ties to Acadiana.

Danny Fenster, managing editor for Frontier Myanmar, was detained at Yangon International Airport as he prepared to board a connecting flight to Malaysia on his journey to Michigan to spend time with family, according to the Associated Press.

Fenster, 37, is a Detroit native who wrote for The Daily Iberian and The (Lafayette) Current before moving to Southeast Asia, KATC-TV reports. He joined Frontier Myanmar as a managing editor in August 2020.

Fenster was detained May 24. On Friday, Bryan Fenster told the Associated Press that his brother had been taken to a prison in Yangon that has housed thousands of political prisoners over decades.

"We've been hearing terrible things about the conditions there," said Bryan Fenster. "We want him out of there."

The U.S. State Department said Friday it was deeply concerned about the detention of Danny Fenster and another American citizen who was working as a journalist in Myanmar. The State Department is pressing Myanmar's military government for their immediate release.

Two other foreign journalists have been arrested by the military junta that took power in Myanmar in February, and have since been deported.

"He has a fascination and passion for writing about folks who struggle and fight for social justice," Bryan Fenster said. "We hope he's safe."

Their mother, Rose Fenster, described to the Associated Press how she felt when she learned her son was being detained as "a total visceral reaction, gut, visceral, numbing, nauseating, tearful, helpless feeling."

Danny Fenster jumped at the opportunity to be the managing editor of a monthly publication in Myanmar, according to his father, who told CNN his son had worked for a daily publication in Myanmar when he was younger and relished the opportunity to return to the country to focus on deeper, more impactful journalism.

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"He's got a lot of wanderlust in him," Buddy Fenster told CNN on Sunday. "When a job in journalism opened up in Myanmar, he immediately took it. It spoke to him."

Buddy Fenster said he last spoke to his son about two weeks ago.

"He voiced concern," Buddy Fenster said. "He said, 'All the reporters, all the journalists are leaving this country.' It seemed like it was harder for him to get staff. People were either in hiding or had just left the country completely. I could tell that there was maybe a change in his desire. I got the feeling he maybe thought it was time to start heading home."

Rose Fenster said she's taking everything minute by minute and trying to focus on the positive while running on fumes.

"We've always had a sense of danger once he went there — a sense of danger and awareness but trusting Danny," Rose Fenster told CNN on Sunday. "He's a strong and independent thinker. This is his passion to write and to write what's right, to speak the truth. So we've always supported him along with being worried."

Danny Fenster worked for The Daily Iberian for about six months in 2017 and 2018. During that time, he won first place in the Louisiana Press Association's best news category during his time at the newspaper for a story on families of murder victims still looking for closure years after losing their loved ones to violence, according to The Daily Iberian.

Christiaan Mader, editor of The Current, wrote on Twitter that Danny Fenster wrote a couple of stories for his nonprofit news organization right as it got started.

"This is just surreal," Mader wrote in a Friday tweet. "Worried deeply for him."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Email Megan Wyatt at mwyatt@theadvocate.com.