Nebiel was one of several journalists working for the government-controlled radio station (“Voice of the Masses”) arrested in early 2011, according to CPJ sources. Authorities did not disclose the basis of the arrests. Local journalists told CPJ one of the journalists, Eyob Kessete, was released after several weeks in prison. Eyob, who worked for the Amharic-language service of Dimtsi Hafash, was arrested on allegations that he had helped others flee the country.
The reporters worked for different services of Dimtsi Hafash: Nebiel for the Amharic-language service, Ahmed for the Tigrayan-language service, and Mohamed for the Bilen-language service. CPJ emailed the Eritrean Information Ministry in October 2016 to request an update in the journalists’ cases. The ministry did not respond.
While the government’s motivation in imprisoning the journalists is unknown in most cases, CPJ research has found that state media journalists work in a climate of intimidation, retaliation, and absolute control. In this context of extreme repression, CPJ considers journalists attempting to escape the country or in contact with third parties abroad as struggling for press freedom.