Andargachew Tsege – also known as Andy – is a father of three from London. A prominent figure in Ethiopian politics, in June 2014 he was kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia on the command of the Ethiopian government, as part of a brutal crackdown on political opponents and civil rights activists. He was released and returned to his family in June 2018.
After being kidnapped, Andy was held in secret detention in solitary confinement for over a year. He was paraded on Ethiopian TV looking ill and gaunt. Andy was held under a sentence of death that was handed down in absentia while he was living in London.
Andy was born in Ethiopia and is a well-known and respected critic of the Ethiopian government. In recent years he has spoken out about the current regime’s poor human rights record in front of US Congress and the EU’s Committee on Human Rights. Andy fled Ethiopia in the 1970s after facing serious threats from the then-government for his democratic political beliefs. His younger brother had already been murdered by government security forces. Andy was granted political asylum in the UK in 1979, then later became a British citizen and started a family in London.
On 23 June 2014, Andy was abducted from an airport in Yemen while waiting to catch a flight to Eritrea. It was only two weeks later that Ethiopian officials admitted to the UK government that they had kidnapped him. They had forced him onto a plane and unlawfully ‘rendered’ him to Ethiopia. In 2009, he was sentenced to death in absentia following a trial which violated basic fair trial standards. Following his kidnap, Andy was held in secret detention and in solitary confinement for over a year, without being subjected to any form of due process.
In July 2014, Ethiopian state TV aired a heavily-edited video of Andy apparently ‘confessing’ to a number of offences. In the video, he appears gaunt and disoriented, and has noticeably lost weight. Screaming can be heard in the background. Torture in Ethiopian prisons is extremely widespread, and political detainees like Andy are routinely abused in order to extract information and false confessions. In around July 2015, he was moved to the infamous Kality prison, dubbed “Ethiopia’s gulag”.
Andy did not have any way to communicate with his partner or his three children in London. Throughout his ordeal, Andy did not have a single private consular visit. He was not charged with any crime or subjected to any legal process.
Andy was released from prison in June 2018 after spending nearly four years in detention. He then returned home to his family in London. Reprieve continues to work with him on getting accountability for his kidnap and ill-treatment.
After almost four years on death row in Ethiopia, British citizen Andy Tsege has received a pardon from the Ethiopian Government today.
The Ethiopian Prime Minster has announced today that his government will be releasing some political prisoners and closing the notorious Maekelawi Prison in Addis Ababa.
The International Trade Secretary, Liam Fox, has admitted he did not raise the case of a British father on death row in Ethiopia at an official meeting with the Ethiopian Prime Minster earlier this month.
Ministers are hosting the first ever visit to London by the Ethiopian Prime Minister this week, while a British father remains illegally detained on the country’s death row.
A father-of-three from London has now spent 1000 days on Ethiopia’s death row, after the country’s security forces kidnapped and rendered him there in June 2014.