Tesfa-Alem Tekle

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Ethiopian authorities arrested Tesfa-Alem Tekle, a correspondent for the Kenya-based Nation Media Group, on October 31, 2021, on suspicion of insulting the government and having links to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. He was granted bail on November 4 but remained in detention as of December 1.

Tesfa-Alem has contributed to several of the Nation Media Group’s newspapers, including The EastAfrican, The Business Daily, and Daily Nation, according to CPJ’s review of his work. He also contributed to the Paris-based Sudan Tribune, the nonprofit news website The Niles, the independent news website New Internationalist

Late at night on October 31, police arrested Tesfa-Alem in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, according to a report by Nation Media Group and a brief of his case shared with CPJ by the group. 

That brief said Tesfa-Alem was arrested on suspicion of insulting the Ethiopian government and having links with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a rebel group at war with the federal government, which Ethiopia’s parliament has declared to be a terrorist organization. 

Tesfa-Alem’s recent reporting for the Nation Media Group included coverage of conflict in Ethiopia; his last reports, published on October 31 and November 1, covered TPLF-led forces taking the cities of Dessie and Komolcha in the Amhara region.

Since the start of the war in November 2020, authorities have repeatedly detained journalists and accused them of supporting or communicating with the TPLF, as CPJ has documented.

The brief said Tesfa-Alem had appeared in court and was granted bail on November 4, but that police declined to release him in part because he works for international media. Since then, Tesfa-Alem has been held at a makeshift detention facility in Addis Ababa, according to the information shared with CPJ by the Nation Media Group.

On November 2 Ethiopia declared a nationwide state of emergency, with regulations giving authorities powers to indefinitely detain people suspected of cooperating with “terrorist groups.” At least 1,000 people were arrested following the declaration of the state of emergency, according to a November 16 statement by Liz Throssell, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

CPJ emailed the Ministry of Justice for comment in November 2021 but did not receive any reply. CPJ also emailed and texted federal police spokesperson Jeylan Abdi seeking comment in November, but did not receive any replies.