Ethiopia Frees Eritrean Journalists After Nearly 11 Years

ADDIS ABABA – Two Eritrean TV journalists who spent more than a decade imprisoned in Ethiopia have been released, according to family members and Eritrean press freedom advocates.

According to VOA’s Horn of Africa service, Tesfaldet Kidane and Salih Gama were released over the weekend. A family member of Kidane said Gama has already left for Eritrea, while Kidane is still in Ethiopia.

Tesfaldet Kidane

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Gama, a show host for Eritrea’s state broadcaster, and Kidane, a cameraman, were arrested in December 2006 on the Kenya-Somalia border during Ethiopia’s invasion of Somalia.

CPJ says that in April 2007, Ethiopia’s Foreign Ministry presented them on state television as part of a group of 41 captured terrorism suspects. But the two were never formally charged or put on trial.

Salih Gama

There have been no official statements on their release from the Ethiopian or Eritrean governments.

The two governments have little tolerance for perceived dissent or criticism, and usually rank near the bottom on indexes of press freedom. CPJ says that as of 2016, Ethiopia was holding 16 journalists behind bars, while Eritrea was holding 17, some of whom have been in prison since 2001.

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