CPJ welcomes release of six Eritrean journalists

Nairobi, January 23, 2015Six Eritrean journalists who worked for the government-controlled station Radio Bana have been released from jail, according to Eritrean journalists in exile who spoke to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The journalists–Basilos Zemo, Bereket Misguina, Ghirmai Abraham, Meles Nguse, Petros Teferi, and Yirgalem Fesseha–were among the Radio Bana staff arrested in a February 2009 raid on the station.

“We welcome the long overdue release of these journalists, who never had a day in court and should never have been imprisoned in the first place,” said CPJ’s East Africa representative, Tom Rhodes. “We call on Eritrean authorities to release all journalists behind bars and take further steps to ease censorship in one of the most secretive countries in the world.”

The reason for the journalists’ release was not clear. Authorities never disclosed any charges against the Radio Bana journalists. Journalists in exile previously told CPJ that the Radio Bana journalists were accused of either providing technical assistance to opposition radio stations or of participating in a meeting in which one of the journalists spoke against the government. Eight other Radio Bana journalists detained in the same raid were released in April 2013, sources told CPJ. At least 17 journalists remain imprisoned in Eritrea.