ERITREA


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How CPJ investigates and classifies attacks on the press



JUNE 27, 2003

Aklilu Solomon, Voice of America
IMPRISONED, CENSORED

Solomon, Asmara-based stringer for the U.S. government­funded Voice of America (VOA) news service, was stripped of his press accreditation by Eritrean authorities after he reported on the families of soldiers who had died during Eritrea's 1998-2000 war with Ethiopia. Solomon's report that the families were anguished over the soldiers' deaths contradicted state media coverage, which claimed that the families had celebrated when the government publicly announced their relatives' deaths, according to the VOA. Authorities said that Solomon's reporting was biased and designed to "please the enemy."

On July 8, Eritrean security officers arrested Solomon at his home and took him to an undisclosed location. Government officials later said that Solomon had been taken to Sawa Military Training Camp to complete his mandatory national military service. According to the VOA, however, Solomon had documents proving that he had already completed a part of his service and was exempt from the rest for medical reasons. Eritrean authorities told the VOA that they were reviewing the documents in question.

Sources in Asmara told the VOA that Eritrean police returned to Solomon's home on July 9, cut his phone line, and confiscated his tape recorder and tapes.