CPJ asks Justice Minister to clarify whereabouts of 15 journalists

New York, June 7, 2001 – The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) today issued a letter of inquiry to Eritrean Minister of Justice Foazia Hashim, expressing concern about the welfare of 15 journalists who are alleged either to be in prison or to have been forcibly conscripted.

Among the journalists are:

  • Paolos Zaid – Zaid, assistant editor of the government weekly Eritrean Profile, was picked up at his home by security agents in late April and detained at an unknown location. The reason for his arrest and his current whereabouts are also unknown.
  • Zemenfes Haile – Haile, a founding editor of the independent weekly Tsigenay, was arrested by security agents at his office early last year. According to our information, Haile was tortured while in detention and then sent to the Zara hard labor detention center, although he was never charged with any crime.

  • Ghebrehiwet Keleta – Security agents arrested Keleta, a free-lance journalist for the weekly Tsigenay, while he was on the way to his office sometime in July 2000. The reason for his arrest and the place of his detention are unknown.

  • Temesghen Ghebreyesus – Ghebreyesus, a reporter for the independent Keste Debena, may have been arrested and kidnapped by security agents. It is believed that he was drafted into the army and sent to the border with Ethiopia, where a two-year-long border war ended in a ceasefire in December. His current whereabouts are unknown.

The others, whose names are listed with those of their publications below, may also have been arrested or forcibly sent to the army frontlines:

  • Akhader Ahmedin (Tsigenay)
  • Medhanie Haile (Keste Debena)
  • Yebio Ghebremedhin (Mekalih)
  • Muluberhan Habtegebriel (Setit)
  • Amanuel (Mana)
  • Ghebremedhin (Millenium)
  • Said Abdelkader (Admas)
  • Dawit Ghebreab (Wintana)
  • Daniel Habte (Eri-Tempo)
  • Omer “Abu Akla” (Tsigenay)
  • Meles Nigusse (Tsigenay)

CPJ requested that the Minister verify whether these journalists are in prison or have been forcibly conscripted.