June 15, 2021


US journalist Nathan Maung has been released from prison in Myanmar. The journalist has been detained since March 9, and American officials have lobbied to have him set free since he entered prison. He was deported back to the United States on Tuesday after all charges against him were dropped.

The Original Accusation Against Maung

In the months leading up to Maung’s arrest, a military coup had taken control of the nation. The leadership began to target journalists throughout the country who were not reporting suitably regarding the coup.

Muang was targeted because he covered a variety of stories involving the coup. He wrote stories about them killing innocent protestors and the civil uprising that was occurring throughout the nation. None of the information that Maung published was false. However, it depicted the coup negatively, and this was not good for the group.

Maung was charged with crimes under section 505a of Myanmar’s penal code. This was the charge that many journalists received in the nation, like Danny Fenster. Fenster was part of the coup’s crackdown against journalists.

He was arrested on his way back to the United States to see his parents before boarding a plane at Yangon International Airport.

Maung was arrested alongside Hanthar Nyein. The two founded Kamayut Media, a Myanmar online news site. Security forces raided their office in early March after the belief that they were spreading negative information.

Nathan Maung Jailed

Maung and Nyein spent two months in jail, and they were tortured throughout their sentence. They were located at the country’s main detention center, Insein Prison, north of Yangon.

After their arrest, the two were tortured and interrogated for two weeks, but they were not released. This was the coup’s way to instill fear in other journalists working in Myanmar. The US State Department got involved in the situation when journalists were being treated unfairly in the country.

Charges Dropped

On Monday, Maung’s lawyer, Tin Zar Oo, claimed that the charges against her client had been dropped. He was charged for spreading misinformation about the coup. The charges were not expected to be dropped, and the ruling surprised Zar Oo and Maung.

The lawyer said, “the main thing is that the US embassy was calling for the rights of their citizen, and we prepared all the documents for him. I think Nathan Maung got released because of a good cooperation between the embassy and the lawyers.”

For Maung, he is just happy to be released and headed back to the United States. Maung’s coworker Hanthar Nyein did not receive the same treatment. He is still in the country’s prison system, and it’s unknown if he will be released shortly.

Zar Oo said her client was happy, but it was also bittersweet because he had to leave Nyein. Nyein is one of many journalists who are circulating through prison in Myanmar.

There have been at least 87 journalists arrested since the coup took power, and 51 remain in jail. The coup has killed close to 900 protestors since securing power in the nation.

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