U.S. journalist Danny Fenster (C) is seen Monday with former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Bill Richardson (center-left) and members of his team at the airport in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, on his way to Qatar. From Qatar, he would board a flight for the United States. Photo by Myanmar Military Information via EPA-EFE
Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Newly freed American journalist Danny Fenster returned home to the United States on Tuesday, where his family says they hope he'll stay this time.
Fenster, 37, was freed from a Myanmar prison on Monday, three days after he was sentenced to more than a decade behind bars for purportedly spreading false and inflammatory information as an editor for the banned outlet Myanmar Now.
Monday, he was released with help from former U.S. diplomat and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson. After leaving Myanmar, Fenster stopped in Qatar en route to the United States.
During the stopover, Fenster told reporters that he'd been arrested and held in captivity "for no reason," according to The New York Times.
Fenster arrived in New York City en route to Michigan early on Tuesday. After getting off the plane, he told reporters that he planned to get a shave and a haircut when he gets home.
"I'm feeling alright physically," he said at the airport, according to WJBK-TV. "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."
Fenster was one of several local and foreign journalists arrested by Myanmar's junta government, which ousted the civilian government in a coup in February. He was the first foreign journalist to be sentenced for a major offense. He was sentenced to 11 years hard labor on Friday, but faced decades behind bars on other possible charges.
The military government accused him of working for banned news outlet Myanmar Now after the coup occurred on Feb. 1. Fenster, however, left Myanmar Now to work at Frontier Myanmar seven months before the junta takeover.
"Happy to be on my way home. I'm incredibly thankful for everything Bill [Richardson] has done," Fenster said, according to WJBK-TV.
His family said they're "overjoyed" for him to return home to southern Michigan.
"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 family said, according to the Times.
Buddy Fenster, the journalist's father, said that he plans to encourage his son to stay in the United States for a while.
"I'm just going to hug him and say, Danny, let's get you some food -- I'm gonna fatten you up and please stay in this country for a little while longer," he told WJBK-TV in Detroit.
"We just let him know that we loved him and we have been working from day one to get him home."