Update from Reporters Without Borders

This from a press release (slightly edited by me) published by the organisation:

Reporters Without Borders has learned that the journalist Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu (see photo on right), in custody since her arrest in February 2009, was admitted to hospital in the Eritrean capital Asmara earlier this year. The organization is extremely worried about her state of health and concerned about the conditions under which she is being held.

Mebrahtu is in serious condition in Asmara’s Halibet hospital.

She has been admitted to the hospital twice, once last November and again in January this year. She is under permanent guard and is allowed no visitors. Her family and friends have not been told of the nature of her illness but her treatment requires the purchase of medication abroad.

A journalist and poet, she is originally from the southern city of Adi Keyih and was arrested during a raid on Radio Bana on 22 February 2009, during which its entire staff was detained (http://en.rsf.org/eritrea-plea-to-e…).  (She is supported by Reporters Without Borders and is sponsored by the organization’s Spanish section, as is her jailed fellow journalist Dawit Isaac.)

In a rare piece of good news, Reporters Without Borders has learned that the journalist Said Abdulhai, arrested in March 2010, was released several months ago.  A veteran of the independence war against Ethiopia and a graduate of Libya’s University of Benghazi in the 1980s, he was one of the media department’s founders after independence. He has at various stages run the information ministry’s press department, the Eritrean news agency and the main pro-government newspaper, published in Tigrinya, English and Arabic. At the time of his arrest he was working for the foreign ministry and is now employed by the education ministry.

Some of her colleagues are still leaving the country to escape the dictatorship and possible arrest. The journalist Senay Gebremedhin, who worked for the Amharic-language service of the state radio station Dimtsi Hafash and the state television station Eri-TV and was employed by the information ministry for 14 years, relocated to neighbouring Ethiopia in January.

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