Death-row Brit goes 2 years without phone call to London family

December 14, 2016

Image of Andy Tsege at Arsenal with his daughter

A British dad on death row in Ethiopia has gone two years without a phone call to his family in London.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege last spoke to his partner and three children on 14th December 2014.

His family say that the rare phone call came out of the blue and lasted only a few minutes.

Since then, guards at Kality prison, which has been dubbed ‘Ethiopia’s Gulag’, have heavily restricted Mr Tsege’s contact with the outside world.

He is held under an unlawful 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.

The Foreign Office recently lost consular contact with him for a fortnight, amid reports that he was ‘in fear for his life.’

Foreign Office minister Tobias Ellwood told Parliament last month that, “As part of our ongoing consular support to Mr Tsege, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made representations to the Ethiopian Government requesting that he be given access to a telephone.”

Mr Tsege requested a phone call with his family at his last consular visit over a month ago. However, since then he has not been able to make a call.

On the last visit by British Embassy staff to the jail, he asked the FCO to “Pass my love and tell them I am thinking of them always.”

British MPs are due to debate Mr Tsege’s case in Parliament on Tuesday, 20th December.

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

“Andy Tsege has had no contact with his family in the UK for over two years. Having been kidnapped from an international airport and rendered to Ethiopia’s Gulag in June of 2014, Andy has languished on death row ever since. Andy’s nine-year-old twins are facing another Christmas without their father at home. It is shocking that the British and Ethiopian governments cannot organise something as basic as regular phone calls for Andy’s family.”

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

3. More information about Kality prison is available here.

4. More information about the Parliamentary debate is available here.