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British government confirms opposition leader now in Ethiopian government hands

573C78CThe position of Andargachew Tsege is now clear: he is being held by the Ethiopian government after being illegally extradited from Yemen. Mr Andargachew, a British subject, now faces torture and possible death, since he was found guilty of treason in absentia. This is a statement from a spokesman for Britain’s the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“We have raised, with the Ethiopian Government, the UK’s deep concerns that a British national, Andargachew Tsege, has been removed from Yemen to Ethiopia. We have made clear that we expect immediate consular access and requested reassurances that the death penalty imposed in absentia will not be carried out. We will continue to raise this urgently with the Ethiopian authorities. The British Government has separately raised the completely unacceptable actions of the Yemeni government who disregarded their obligations under the Vienna Convention and Convention Against Torture and is following up further with them.”

Mr Andargachew’s case was raised with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn by Lynne Featherstone, Britain’s Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for International Development during a meeting in Addis Ababa on Monday 7th of July. Details of the meeting have not yet been forthcoming, but it is clear that she pressed for access to Mr Andargachew and asked for an assurance that the death penalty would not be imposed.

Mr Andargachew is the Secretary General of Ginbot 7, a political organisation established after the suppression of the Ethiopia’s election in 2005. The opposition won every seat in Addis Ababa, and Berhanu Nega (who leads Ginbot 7) was the mayor-elect of the city. Protests following the elections led to the deaths of about 200 people. In 2009, the year before the last elections, Mr Andergachew was among a group of Ginbot 7 leaders sentenced to death in absentia for planning to assassinate government officials; they denied the charges.

The plight of Mr Andargachew has been taken up by a number of organisations, including Amnesty International andHuman Rights Watch.

“We are deeply concerned for Andargachew Tsige’s safety,” said Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa director. “Ethiopia needs to demonstrate that it is holding Andargachew in accordance with its international obligations, and he should be allowed immediate access to a lawyer, his family, and to British consular officials.”


  1. I don’t believe UK had any hand in this. If they think or agree with the Ethiopian government that this man is a terrorist or a member of a terrorist organization they would have taken him to court in the UK charging him for being as such. You should understand that Yemen has never been an effective centralized nation at any time in its history. This went from bad to worse after the overthrow of a weak monarchy in the 1960′s. It is a nation formed around competing tribes who sometimes are friends and at other times mortal enemies to each other. If you can make a deal with a clan, then even the big house is all yours. I bet you this man has fallen victim to a bought off Yemeni clan by the Ethiopian security forces. That is why Yemen is found to be an excellent place for Al Qaeda to have a ‘secured’ base. It is just like Somalia. Especially the Northern part of Yemen that includes Sana’a is a society that seems to come out of a mold from the Dark Ages, not even the Middle Ages. It does not surprise me if the President of Yemen was not aware of the arrest until the man was whisked away by the Ethiopian security. Today some clan member has turned filthy rich overnight by this ‘trafficking of a precious cargo’. I mean rich. And the UK could not do anything to help this man. I don’t even think they had any time to do anything. I bet you the victim was whisked out of Yemen within 24 hours of his arrival at the Sana’a Int’l Airport. His fate was sealed the very time Sana’a appeared on his itinerary.
    On the other hand, this will be a stain on the history of relationship of two peoples and will be remain so forever. I feel for his family and I don’t even want to start thinking the agony this man is going through as we speak. He is being subjected to the cruelest methods of physical torture reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition. Nobody will be able to help him. Nobody!!! Thanks to the danger of terrorism and because of that Mr. Tsige and numerous prisoners of conscience like him will remain in the blind spot until terrorism is wiped out from that region.

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