Nation Journalist Tesfa-Alem Tekle Detained in Ethiopia Freed

  • An image of empty NTV studios taken in October 2017
    NTV studios at Twin Towers along Kimathi Street in a photo dated October 2017.
    NMG
  • A Nation Media Group (NMG) correspondent, who has been in detention since October 31, 2021, has been released after spending 77 days in captivity. 

    According to multiple media reports, Tesfa-Alem Tekle was freed along with other professionals and journalists. 

    The reporter had initially been arrested in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa on October 31 after being accused of violating reporting rules on the Tigray conflict.

    Authorities claimed that Tekle was sympathetic to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), a former ruling party that is now considered a terrorist group. 

    File Photo of Tesfa-Alem Tekle, Nation Media Journalist Who Disappeared in Ethiopia
    File Photo of Tesfa-Alem Tekle, Nation Media Journalist Who Disappeared in Ethiopia
    File

    He was taken to court and released on a bail of 1000 birr (about Ksh2,320) on November 4, 2021. However, the police defied the court and transferred him to a detention facility where they kept him until Saturday, January 15, 2022. 

    In December 2021, Nation Media Group (NMG) Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu wrote to the authorities asking them to disclose the reporter's whereabouts and the circumstances under which he is being held. He also raised concerns about Tekle's health and safety.

    However, they remained mum and little had been divulged about him until he was freed on Saturday, January 15.

    Speaking to the press shortly after his release, the scribe revealed that he was relieved to be out of detention, adding that it was the best day in his life.

    While authorities did not reveal why they let Tekle and the others were released, many believe that it had something to do with the new policy shift announced by Addis Ababa to build a national dialogue consensus.

    This case involving the Nation Media journalist is not an isolated one. Cases of media constrictions have been escalating since the breakout of the skirmishes in Ethiopia.

    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) says it has noted an increase in cases of harassment and arrest of journalists over the past few years.

    CPJ has found a deterioration of press freedom in Ethiopia since the war (in Tigray) started. Even before that we were documenting violations, for instance, arrests of journalists and a failure to follow due process in their cases, but this trend became entrenched after the start of the war,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ Sub-Saharan Representative.

    “Numerous journalists have been arrested, many of them facing nebulous allegations such as supporting TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and the police hold them for long pre-charge durations while claiming to carry out investigations. “

    “We’ve also seen other types of attacks. Earlier this year, there was a foreign journalist who was expelled from Ethiopia, and we’ve also recorded two incidents in which journalists were assaulted and intimidated for their journalism. What we are seeing is an environment that’s hostile to independent journalism,” she added.

    This comes even as the media company is still trying to establish the painful demise of one of their journalist Gatonye Gathura.

    File image of NMG's Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu.
    File image of NMG's Editorial Director Mutuma Mathiu.
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