CPJ confirms that four more journalists are in prison

New York, September 19, 2002—The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) confirmed today that four more Eritrean journalists, who have been missing, are in government custody, according to several sources in the capital, Asmara.

CPJ had previously confirmed the detention of 14 journalists, many of whom were arrested one year ago today after President Isaias Afewerki banned the private press on September 18, 2001.

All 18 journalists are being held incommunicado.

“The continued information blackout in Eritrea is outrageous, as is the government’s elimination of all private media in the country,” said CPJ executive director Ann Cooper. “We strongly urge the government to release these journalists immediately and allow them to resume their work of reporting the news.”

The four journalists include Zemenfes Haile, founder and manager of the private weekly Tsigenay, who was sent to a work camp in early 1999; Ghebrehiwet Keleta, a news writer for Tsigenay, who was last seen in detention by friends and family in July 2000. Reporter Selamyinghes Beyene, of the weekly MeQaleh, and Binyam Haile, of the pro-government Haddas Eritrea, have also been missing since their arrests in the fall of 2001.

The remaining 14 jailed journalists include:

Yosef Mohamed Ali, chief editor of Tsigenay; Seyoum Tsehaye, free-lance editor and photographer and the former director of Eritrean State Television (ETV); Temesgen Gebreyesus, reporter for Keste Debena; Mattewos Habteab, editor of Meqaleh; Dawit Habtemichael, assistant chief editor, Meqaleh; Medhanie Haile, assistant chief editor, Keste Debena; Fessahaye Yohannes, also known as Joshua, editor-in-chief of Setit; Said Abdulkadir, chief editor of Admas;
Amanuel Asrat, chief editor of Zemen; Dawit Isaac, contributor to Setit;
Hamid Mohammed Said, ETV; Saleh Aljezeeri, Eritrean State Radio; Saadia (full name unknown), a female journalist with the Arabic-language service of ETV; and

Simret Seyoum, a writer and general manager for Setit.