The case of a US journalist detained in Myanmar has been raised by the US and UK governments, who have urged Myanmar to release him. Nathan Maung, co-founder and editor-in-chief of online news outlet Kamayut Media, was detained on 9 March with his colleague Hanthar Nyein in a raid on their office. Hanthar Nyein was subsequently released, but Maung remains in custody. The Southeast Asian nation has been in turmoil since a military coup on 1 February; the US and UK have both condemned the coup and imposed sanctions on the country’s military leaders. The Committee to Protect Journalists has called for Nathan Maung’s release, saying he is being held illegally.
Yesterday, the White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki, issued a statement on the detention of Nathan Maung. “We are deeply concerned about the Burmese military’s detention of Nathan Maung, an American citizen, and co-founder of Kamayut Media, in Burma on March 9. He was detained together with a Burmese colleague, Hanthar Nyein. Burma’s military regime has pressed multiple charges against Mr Maung, and we understand he is being held in Insein prison. We urge his immediate release. We also call on the Burmese military regime to cease its attacks on journalists, activists, and others who are seeking to exercise their right to freedom of expression, and to release all those who have been unjustly detained.”
Ms Psaki added that, “We are working to provide all possible consular assistance to him, including through a US embassy visit to him in detention.” The statement was supported by the UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, who tweeted: “I’m deeply concerned with the ongoing detention of American and founder of Kamayut Media, Nathan Maung, and the silencing of independent media in Burma. I raised this on my call with @ASEAN counterparts yesterday and urge the military regime to release Nate immediately.”
Concerns have been raised over the safety of journalists in Myanmar since the military coup; as reported in Briefings for The Journalist, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners says that at least 23 journalists have been arrested, with 17 remaining detained. On 10 March, 2021, six Myanmar journalists fled to India, saying they were facing “injustice and oppression” from the military junta that had taken power. The crackdown has prompted increased calls for action from the international community, including sanctions and the suspension of aid. Last week, the US imposed new sanctions on two military-owned conglomerates in Myanmar, while the EU and UK have also imposed their own measures.