British father marks 600 days of illegal Ethiopian detention

February 9, 2016

Image of Andy Tsege and his family

A British man who was kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia will this Saturday mark 600 days of illegal detention.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege, a father of three from London who turns 61 today, has been held by Ethiopian security forces since his disappearance on 23rd June 2014, when he was forcibly taken from an airport in Yemen to Ethiopia. Mr Tsege is a prominent member of the Ethiopian opposition, and is held under a sentence of death imposed in absentia in 2009 in relation to his political activities.

Today Mr Tsege’s partner and three children will deliver to 10 Downing Street a petition signed by nearly 130,000 people, calling on the Prime Minister to intervene to secure his release.

The Ethiopian authorities have refused to say whether Mr Tsege’s death sentence will be carried out or not, and have not permitted him to see a lawyer or his British family. During recent visits to him by the British ambassador, Mr Tsege has indicated that he is not being held as a regular prisoner, and has not been told by the authorities what will happen to him.

Torture and mistreatment is common in Ethiopian prisons, and there are fears for Mr Tsege’s mental and physical health.

Harriet McCulloch, a deputy director at human rights organization Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Tsege, said:

“It is deeply disappointing that, nearly 600 days on from his kidnap, Andy Tsege is no closer to freedom. Andy has been subjected to an appalling ordeal – including rendition, illegal detention and an in absentia death sentence – as punishment for his political activism. There are now serious concerns for his mental and physical health. It’s clear the Foreign Office views Ethiopia’s actions as totally unacceptable – the government must do more to secure his release.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization. Reprieve’s London office can be contacted on: communications [at] reprieve.org.uk / +44 (0) 207 553 8140. Reprieve US, based in New York City, can be contacted on Katherine [dot] oshea [at] reprieve.org / +1 917 855 8064.

2. Further information on Mr Tsege’s case can be found at the Reprieve website, here.

3. Mr Tsege’s family will deliver their petition (available here) to 10 Downing Street today between 4 and 6pm.