Saleh, a cameraman, for Eritrea’s state broadcaster Eri-TV, was arrested along with Tesfalidet, a producer, in late 2006 on the Kenya-Somalia border during Ethiopia’s invasion of southern Somalia.
The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry first disclosed the detention of the journalists in April 2007 and presented them on state television as part of a group of 41 captured terrorism suspects. Though Eritrea often conscripted journalists into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity. The ministry pledged to subject some of the suspects to military trials but did not identify them by name. In a September 2011 press conference with exiled Eritrean journalists in Addis Ababa, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saleh and Tesfalidet would be freed if investigations determined they were not involved in espionage, according to news reports and journalists who participated in the press conference.
By late 2016, Tesfalidet and Saleh’s case had not been tried and Ethiopian authorities had not disclosed details about the legal proceedings against them, according to local journalists with whom CPJ spoke. CPJ contacted Ethiopia’s Information Ministry in late October for comment about the legal status and health of the journalists. The ministry did not respond.