IFJ Condemns Eritrean Authorities Following “Bizarre and Cruel” Reimprisonment of Local Reporter

The International Federation of Journalists today condemned the “cruel and indifferent” actions of the Eritrean government following the recent release and re-imprisonment of independent reporter Dawit Issac in Asmara.

The IFJ was reacting to the news that after Dawit Isaac, a journalist with Swedish and Eritrean dual nationality and founder of the now-banned weekly Setit, had been released from prison in mid-November he was put back in prison again two days after he was set free.

“This has been a bizarre and disturbing cycle of events,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “We must know if Dawit was ever officially released and if so why he was reimprisoned without clear explanations”.

On 19 November, Dawit was released from Karcheli Prison in the Eritrean capital of Asmara after more than four years in prison. However, he did not receive permission to leave the country and on 21 November he was re-incarcerated in the midst of reports that he had only been released to undergo medical examinations. Dawit was just able to telephone his wife and friends who have found refuge in Sweden, telling them he had just been freed from Karcheli prison in Asmara when, without explanation, he was put back in prison.

Both Dawit Isaac and 12 other colleagues have been locked away without trial and without access to his family and colleagues since the crackdown on the private media by Eritrean authorities in September 2001.

The IFJ is calling for the case of Dawit and the fate of his 12 colleagues to be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the European Union Foreign Ministers on 12 December in Brussels, in which the political situation in Eritrea is foreseen on the agenda.

“We are very disappointed at this tragic turn of events and hope that European leaders can initiate talks with the Eritrean authorities to finally achieve the lasting freedom of all of our colleagues jailed in Eritrea,” said Arne Konig, Vice President of the Swedish Journalists’ Union and Chair of the European Federation of Journalists. “Their continued incarceration is a gross violation of human rights and we will push for all 13 journalists to be released.

The Swedish Union of Journalists, backed by the International Federation of Journalists, had been campaigning vigorously for Dawit´s release in a barrage of letters and protests. “We are dismayed by recent developments and applaud ongoing efforts by our Swedish colleagues to secure the release of Dawit,” said White.

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The IFJ represents over 500,000 journalists in more than 110 countries