Philip Hammond, the Foreign Secretary of United Kingdom, is deeply concerned over the detention of a British national, Andargachew Tsege, according to a June 25 press release from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.

The press release was published a day after the Foreign Secretary and the Ethiopian Foreign Minister, Dr Tedros Adhanom discussed over the phone on the continued detention of Andargachew Tsege.

The Foreign secretary expressed his “deep concern” that a year after his detention Andargachew “remains in solitary confinement without a legal process to challenge his detention”. He is also disappointed that repeated requests for regular consular access have not been granted despite promises according to the press release.Andargachew-Tsige-leader-of-Ginbot-7-Ethiopia.jpg

On the phone call, Philip Hammond has asked Dr Tedros “to permit immediate regular consular access” and that his concerns regarding Andargachew’s welfare to be addressed. “I have also asked that the Ethiopian authorities facilitate a visit by Mr Tsege’s family”, he said.

Andargachew Tsigie, a British leader of an Ethiopian rebel group, Ginbot-7, was detained at Sena’a airport, Yemen, on June 23, while in transit from Dubai to Eritrea, where the group’s armed unit is stationed. Ginbot-7 has been described as a “group which espouses violent overthrow of the government” in a 2011 US State Department report. It is designated as terrorist by the Ethiopian parliament and the regional inter-governmental body, IGAD.

The British Foreign Ministry has previously noted its “concerns about the death penalty that Mr Tsige could face in Ethiopia”. Though Andargachew Tsigie has been sentenced in 2009 to death in absentia in connection to a foiled attempt to “overthrow the Constitutional order”, it is unlikely that he will be executed. Ethiopia has not implemented death penalty for about 10 years and can be considered as have abolished it de facto.


Fetsum Berhane is an Ethiopian resident, economist researcher and a blogger on HornAffairs.

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