Nairobi, January 17, 2023—In response to news reports that authorities in the northern Ethiopian state of Tigray recently released three employees of the broadcaster Tigrai TV but continue to hold two more in custody, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement calling for the remaining staffers’ release:
“While it is a great relief that authorities recently released three Ethiopian journalists imprisoned over their work with the broadcaster Tigrai TV, it is unacceptable that two of their colleagues remain behind bars,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Authorities in Tigray should unconditionally release Hailemichael Gesesse and Dawit Mekonnen without delay and ensure that members of the media are not imprisoned for their work.”
Authorities arrested five Tigrai TV employees—Hailemichael and Dawit, along with Haben Halefom, Misgena Seyoum, and Teshome Temalew—in May and June 2022, and accused them of “collaboration with the enemy,” amid a civil war between the federal government and Tigray forces, as CPJ documented at the time.
The High Court in the Tigrayan capital of Mekelle acquitted and released Haben on December 5, 2022, and acquitted and released Misgena and Teshome on January 11, according to those news reports.
On January 12, the court adjourned Hailemichael’s case to February 23, and Dawit’s case to February 25, during which state witnesses are expected to make statements, those news reports said.