Celebrities join London family’s call on Downing Street to secure dad’s release

November 29, 2016

Celebrities including comedian Sara Pascoe and actress Harriet Walter will today join MPs and the family of a kidnapped British man, and hand in a 24,000-strong Downing Street petition calling on the Prime Minister to seek his release.

British man Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege is held under a sentence of death in Ethiopia, after he was kidnapped and rendered to the country in 2014. Mr Tsege is a well-known critic of the Ethiopian ruling party, and he was sentenced to death in absentia in 2009 while he was living in London.

Earlier this month,  it emerged the Foreign Office had recently lost consular contact with him, and that he was ‘in fear for his life.’

Today, Mr Tsege’s partner and three children – who have not been able to speak to him since December 2014 – will deliver a petition of 24,000 signatures to Downing Street, calling on the Prime Minister to seek his return from Ethiopia.

The Government has so far declined to request Mr Tsege’s release, instead calling for him to receive legal representation – something which, to date, has not happened. Last month it emerged that the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, had raised the issue of legal access three times with his counterpart since taking office, with no result.

Human rights organization Reprieve and several MPs have voiced concerns with the Government’s approach, raising fears that Mr Tsege faces no prospect of due process in Ethiopia.

Commenting, Maya Foa, a director at Reprieve, said:

“Andy Tsege’s unlawful detention under sentence of death is nothing short of a disgrace. It’s been two years since Andy’s family in London have been able to speak to him, and they are heartbroken at the thought of another Christmas without him. Andy’s in absentia death sentence, his kidnap and rendition to Ethiopia, and his continued detention amount to a series of grave abuses against a British citizen. Now more than ever, Theresa May must urgently request Andy’s return home to the UK.”

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. The family’s petition will be handed in at 11.30-12pm outside Downing Street.

3. Details of the recent fears for Mr Tsege’s wellbeing are available here.

4. Further detail on Mr Tsege’s case can be found on the Reprieve website, here, or on request.