Journalist Samuel Assefa Flees Ethiopia Amid Government Pressure

Journalist Samuel Assefa has been working with Wazema Radio, Ethiopian Media Service (EMS), and other media outlets based in Ethiopia. Recently, he left the country, citing government influence as the reason for his departure.

A few months ago, Samuel was arrested by the police while reporting on the demolition of 100,000 houses and the displacement of citizens in the Sheger City Administration near Addis Ababa, an action taken due to alleged illegal construction.

Samuel reported that he was beaten, arrested, and harassed by the police during this incident. Though he was released on bail, he faced ongoing threats and intimidation.

Journalist Samuel recounted to Ethio Negari that he was also detained at a regional command post while traveling to Dessie and Hayek towns in the Amhara region to report for Wazema Radio and Inter News.

Furthermore, he stated that he was detained again by police in Sheger City when he went to retrieve bail money from his previous arrest.

Federal police subsequently forced him to undergo questioning in April 2024, following an interview he conducted with Voice of America (VOA) Radio, He added.

“Even though I want to work in Ethiopia’s media independently and free from influence, I was forced to leave my beloved country because of the government’s influence,” Samuel lamented.

Reports from several international humanitarian organizations, including the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), have documented the imprisonment and mistreatment of journalists in Ethiopia.

Two weeks ago, a joint statement by over 18 countries with embassies in Addis Ababa highlighted the deterioration of press freedom in Ethiopia, citing the arrest and harassment of journalists.

The Ethiopian government, however, has denied these allegations, asserting that media freedom in the country has improved significantly due to policy reforms.

Ethiopia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs described the collective statement from Western nations as coercive, with spokesperson Mr. Nebyu Tedla emphasizing that Ethiopia maintains bilateral agreements with each of these countries and perceives the group statement as a veiled threat.

Organizations such as Amnesty International, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and Human Rights Watch have called for the release of unjustly imprisoned journalists in Ethiopia.

According to CPJ’s annual report, Ethiopia arrested over eight journalists last year, making it the second-highest jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa.

The report noted that many journalists in Ethiopia are abandoning the profession or leaving the country due to fear of harassment.

CPJ highlighted the cases of journalists including Belay Manaye, Dawit Begashaw, Genet Assmamaw, Abay Zewdu, Gobeze Sisay, Tewodros Zerfu, Meskerem Abera, and Bekalu Alamirew, urging the Ethiopian government to release them and respect press freedom.


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