Saleh Aljazeeri, who worked at the state broadcaster Dimtsi Hafash and the state Arabic newspaper Eritrea al-Haditha, was arrested in 2002. His whereabouts, health, and status remain unknown as the Eritrean government repeatedly has failed to provide credible answers to questions about imprisoned journalists or to allow visits from family or lawyers.
Saleh was arrested sometime in February 2002. Eritrean journalists in exile said they suspected the arrest was linked to Saleh’s work, adding that they believed he was being held in Carceli Prison in Asmara. Authorities have not disclosed Saleh’s location or any charges against him.
Saleh was seen alive in prison in 2006, according to research from Radio Erena, a France-based station run by Eritrean journalists in exile. Saleh’s son, who fled Eritrea in 2016, told Radio Erena that family members had no information about the journalist’s exact whereabouts or health.
When CPJ contacted the Eritrean Ministry of Information in late 2018 to inquire about the well-being of the country’s imprisoned journalists, Paulos Netabay, director of the state-owned Eritrean News Agency, responded on behalf of the ministry but did not address Saleh’s case.
In June 2019, a group of over 100 prominent African journalists, writers, and activists wrote an open letter to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki asking to visit the imprisoned journalists and activists, according to a copy of the letter that was published by the South African newspaper Mail & Guardian. In a response published on its website, Eritrea’s Ministry of Information said that only reporters with a “genuine interest in understanding the country” were welcome and said the imprisoned journalists were arrested for “events of sedition.”
In October 2021, CPJ and 15 other human rights organizations, journalists, and human rights experts called on the Canadian government to impose targeted sanctions on senior Eritrean officials for human rights abuses, including the imprisonment of journalists.
In July 2022, CPJ and a coalition of rights organizations and lawyers, led by the Canada-based Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, filed a complaint on behalf of detained Eritrean journalists with the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
CPJ’s calls to Eritrea’s Ministry of Justice either did not connect or rung without an answer in November 2022. A person who answered when CPJ called the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in November 2022 could not be heard clearly.
Emails sent to Eritrea’s minister of information, Yemane Ghebremeskel, and Eritrea’s embassies in Kenya, the United States, Switzerland, and Sweden were unanswered or returned error messages in October and November 2022.