BY GETAHUN TSEGAYE/ AS
Addis Abeba, October 04, 2021 – Ethiopian Federal Police said missing prominent journalist Tesfalem Waldyes, founder and editor-in-chief of Ethiopia Insider, an emerging Amharic news outlet, is in police custody.
Tesfalem was reported missing by families and friends since Saturday October 01. This morning, Mulisa Abdissa, the federal police crime investigation unit deputy bureau head, told the BBC Amharic that Tesfalem was in police custody under investigated.
Tesfalem was reported missing late on Sunday night by his friends in Addis Abeba. He was last seen at the Irreecha Hora Finfinnee Festival in Addis Abeba where he posted a video of Oromo youth demanding the release of Oromo prisoners.
A family member of Tesfalem told Addis Standard that she heard the news on social media just like everyone else. “I have no knowledge of his whereabouts or what has happened to him,” the family member who spoke on conditions anonymity said.
“He is currently at the federal Police investigation bureau detention center located in the Mexico area,” Mulisa said. “Nothing will happen. We are investigating. There is nothing to worry about.” But he declined to give details of what Tesfalem was detained for.
The video shared on Ethiopia Insider’s Facebook page showing the protest that broke out during the Irreecha celebrations in Addis Abeba on Saturday went viral with more than 22, 000 likes and more than 6,000 shares. The BBC Amharic stated that it has learned from reliable sources that security forces have searched Tesfalem’s houses after they had detained him.
TESFALEM WAS FIRST ARRESTED IN APRIL 2014 WHEN HE WAS WORKING AS MEMBER OF ADDIS STANDARD NEWSROOM, AND WAS SUBSEQUENTLY CHARGED WITH TERRORISM ALONG WITH FIVE OTHERS
Hamis Awel, a colleague of Tesfalem at Ethiopia Insider, is quoted as saying Tesfalem was planning to cover the Irreecha festival on Sunday, October 03, in Bishoftu city of Oromia state. Hamis said he failed to reach him by phone after he shared the video and photos of the holiday on Saturday after 8 AM local time. “Tesfalem has been in the area since early morning to cover the Irreecha celebrations in Addis Abeba,” Hamis said, adding that he had repeatedly tried to contact him by phone and text message but failed to know his whereabouts until Monday morning.
Tesfalem is a well known independent journalist who has previously worked for the weekly English and Amharic newspapers, Addis Fortune and Addis Neger, respectively.
After he was set free by a federal court more than two years later, Tesfalem went to exile to Germany where he worked for the Deutsche Welle Amharic department. He returned home in 2020 and co-founded Ethiopia Insider website, a reliable news outlet which is gaining a large following on social media.