It's been a crazy week for foreign journalist Danny Fenster. Last week officials in Myanmar convicted him of spreading false information and contacting illegal organizations. After imprisoning him for months. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.
Days later, he was freed.
An official for Myanmar told reporters that the journalist "has been released and deported. We will release details why he was released later."
Many in Michigan are crediting the surprise release to Bill Richardson. He met with the leader of Myanmar four times, twice unofficially and twice officially. Details of the meeting are being kept under wraps, but the result is Fenster coming home to his family.
Richardson told reporters, "It feels great. He's safe, that's all that we want..."
Fenster says that being in prison was not fun; he was not beaten or starved during his time in jail. There was no form of torture that he experienced. But being freed from prison feels like a gift.
"I'm feeling alright physically, it's just the same privations that come with any form of incarceration, you just go a little stir crazy. The longer it drags on, the more worried you are it's never going to end.Happy to be on my way home. I'm incredibly thankful for everything Bill has done. Everything this foundation has done..."
It should be noted that while Richardson is a diplomat for the United States, the work he did, in this case, was not directed by the government. This is because having him act as an official for a government would have sent a message that the U.S. views the governing authorities of Myanmar as legitimate.
Fenster landed at the JFK airport in New York City this morning. He was greeted by the press, who wanted to know how he was feeling and what his plans were once he got home. His answer was, "Get a shave and a haircut."
There was also an implication that his work with Frontier Myanmar was not over, even though it is likely that he will not be allowed back in the country under the current regime.
Frontier Myanmar is an online magazine covering news and business within the country. Fenster is the managing editor for the publication.
"I still gotta get ahold of my family at Frontier Myanmar, we still got a lot of work to do. It's been a long time coming, a moment I've been imagining so intensely for so long. It's surpassing everything I could have imagined."
Friends and family in Fenster's hometown of Huntington Woods are prepared for his return. They have a sign out that says "Welcome Home Danny." It is something that they have worried about, and thought might not happen for a long time.
"We cannot wait to hold him in our arms. We are tremendously grateful to all the people who have helped secure his release, especially Ambassador Richardson, as well as our friends and the public who have expressed their support and stood by our sides as we endured these long and difficult months."
The stress of Fenster's trial and subsequent conviction roiled them. There was concern that he would be mistreated or worse. Fenster has repeatedly said that while the prison was not fun, he was fed, and nobody beat him up. He did admit to some other issues, however.
He told reporters that he went through some typical issues while in jail, like being a bit stir crazy. There was also a fear that imprisonment would never end, that he would be stuck in prison for the rest of his life.
As of press time, Fenster was in New York and waiting on his flight back to Michigan.