Saleh Aljazeeri

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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 his 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.”

CPJ repeatedly called Eritrea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in September and November 2021, but the calls rang unanswered or did not connect. CPJ emailed Paulos and Information Minister Yemane G. Meskel in September and November 2021, but did not receive any replies. The minister also did not respond to a September 2021 query sent to his Twitter account. 

CPJ emailed several Eritrean embassies—including in Sweden, the United States, and Belgium– in September and November 2021, but the emails either bounced back or did not receive a response.