Nairobi, June 29, 2022 – In response to news reports that Ethiopian security personnel arrested journalist Yayesew Shimelis on Tuesday, June 28, and are holding him at an undisclosed location, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for his immediate release:
“Yayesew Shimelis’ detention is deeply concerning, given Ethiopian authorities’ history of repeatedly arresting him and holding him for weeks without formal charges,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Authorities should immediately disclose his whereabouts and state their case against him, or release him without charge. They should also stop using the judicial system as a tool to punish journalists whose reporting does not align with the government’s narrative.”
At about 7 a.m. on June 28, men in plainclothes who identified themselves as intelligence officers detained Yayesew, administrator of the YouTube news channel Ethio Forum, at his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, according to news reports and a person familiar with his case who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns. Yayesew’s family did not know his whereabouts as of June 29, and could not find him at local police stations, according to that person and multiple reports by the privately owned broadcaster Asham TV.
Since 2020, Yayesew has been arrested at least three other times, including in mid-2021 when he was held for weeks at a military camp in Afar state, according to CPJ reporting. On May 26, 2022, Yayesew was detained along with several other journalists and media workers, for allegedly inciting the public against the government. He was released on June 20 without being formally charged, after a court granted him bail, according to reports.