French journalist detains in Ethiopia

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A French journalist has been detained in Ethiopia while visiting the country for a recent African Union summit, his employer said.

Antoine Galindo, a Paris-based correspondent for the Africa Intelligence website, was detained in the capital Addis Ababa last Thursday by plainclothes security officers, the news outlet’s publisher, Indigo Publications, said in a statement.

Galindo had arrived in Ethiopia earlier this month to report on an annual African Union summit and had a visa authorising him to work as a journalist, the statement said.

Ethiopia’s government has not publicly commented on Galindo’s case. According to the statement by Indigo Publications, a judge on Saturday ordered the extension of Galindo’s detention until 1st March.

He has been accused of “conspiracy to create chaos in Ethiopia,” the publisher said and called on the authorities to release him.

“Indigo Publications is outraged by his unjustified arrest, which is also a serious attack on press freedom,” the statement said.

Galindo was detained at Addis Ababa’s Ethiopian Skylight Hotel, where he was interviewing Bate Urgressa, the spokesperson of the Oromo Liberation Front opposition party, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Bate was also arrested and was still in custody, CPJ reported.

The journalist was denied bail after police had requested his continued detention so they could access his phone records and apprehend other suspects, CPJ said, citing Galindo’s lawyer.

Ethiopia is the second-biggest jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, CPJ said, and joined calls for Galindo’s immediate release. “His unjust arrest highlights the atrocious environment for the press in general in Ethiopia,” it said.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who came to power in 2018 amid mass protests against authoritarianism, had initially promised to introduce a new era of political openness, but civil rights have suffered under his administration.

During the 2020-2022 war in the Tigray region, foreign journalists and diplomats were expelled while thousands of ethnic Tigrayans were rounded up and detained.

A new rebellion in Amhara, Ethiopia’s second-biggest state, prompted parliament to impose a state of emergency amid accusations of extrajudicial killings by soldiers.

At least eight Ethiopian journalists are currently behind bars, according to the CPJ.

 

Africanews/Hauwa M.

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