Video emerges of abducted Brit in Ethiopia

January 30, 2015

The Ethiopian authorities have broadcast a video of a Briton who was kidnapped and rendered in secret to the country over six months ago.

Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege (59), a father of three from London, has been held in a secret location in Ethiopia since his kidnap while in transit at Sanaa airport, Yemen, on 23 June 2014. Mr Tsege, a prominent critic of the Ethiopian government, faces a death sentence imposed in absentia.

The Ethiopian authorities have so far refused to tell British officials where they are holding Mr Tsege, or to allow regular contact between Mr Tsege and UK officials or his family. Asked last year if Mr Tsege would be executed, the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told the BBC: “I cannot say this now.”

In a new video broadcast days ago by the Ethiopian state channel, ETV, Mr Tsege appears to have been coached to deny recent media reports of his torture, saying: “I have really become healthy since I came here.” He appears gaunt and tired in the heavily-edited broadcast, as in two earlier ETV videos released shortly after his capture.

Legal charity Reprieve, which is assisting Mr Tsege’s family, has obtained a psychological analysis of the two earlier broadcasts; the report notes “a serious deterioration in [Mr Tsege’s] mental state”, and concludes “the most likely explanation… is that Mr Tsege has undergone some form of torture.”

Torture in Ethiopian prisons is common, with groups such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International reporting routine mistreatment of political dissidents and journalists.

Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:

“It’s hard to fathom how, more than 6 months after the Ethiopian authorities abducted Andy Tsege, they are parading him on camera again – while British officials aren’t permitted to visit him in his prison cell, and don’t know where he’s being held. This video is a naked attempt to counter allegations that Andy is being tortured, but all it really does is display Ethiopia’s contempt for this British citizen and his government. Surely now, the UK must demand an end to Andy’s horrifying ordeal, and his safe return to his family in London.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Alice Gillham in Reprieve’s press office: alice [DOT] gillham [AT] reprieve [DOT] org [DOT] uk / +44 207 553 8160

2. The latest Ethiopian TV broadcast of Mr Tsege in detention can be viewed here.

3. An expert analysis obtained by Reprieve of earlier videos can be read here.