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Media & freedom of expression

eritrea: Voice of America correspondent arrested

2003-07-17, Issue 119

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Reporters Without Borders has condemned the arrest and conscription into the Eritrean army of the local correspondent of the radio station Voice of America (VOA) and called for the immediate release of him and 18 other jailed media workers in the country, which it said was "Africa's biggest prison for journalists."

**We apologise for any cross-posting - The following is being forwarded exactly
as received**

To: IFEX Autolist (other news of interest)
From: Reporters sans frontières (RSF), [email protected]

Press freedom
15 July 2003


Voice of America correspondent arrested

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the arrest and conscription into the
Eritrean army of the local correspondent of the radio station Voice of America
(VOA) and called for the immediate release of him and 18 other jailed media
workers in the country, which it said was "Africa's biggest prison for

The journalist, Akhilu Solomon, 32, was arrested at his home on 8 July and taken
to an army camp to do his compulsory military service. However, VOA said he had
already done part of it and been exempted from the rest on medical grounds.

"After persecuting the local media, the government is now going after those
working for foreign media," said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general
Robert Ménard. "The latest arrest means 19 journalists are now in prison, making
Eritrea by far the most repressive country in Africa in this respect."

The government shut down all privately-owned newspapers in September 2001 and
arrested several journalists, leaving only the official press operating. Three
foreign media - the BBC, Agence France-Presse and Deutsche Welle - have
stringers in the country. The US embassy in Asmara said it had contacted the
government about Solomon's arrest.

All Eritreans over 18 have been obliged since 1994 to do 18 months military
service, including six months training at a military camp in the western town of

Liberté de la presse
15 juillet 2003


Le correspondant de VOA arrêté

Le correspondant en Erythrée de la radio américaine Voice of America (VOA) a été
arrêté par la police et conduit dans un camp militaire pour faire son service

Reporters sans frontières demande sa libération et rappelle que l'Erythrée est
la plus grande prison du continent africain pour les journalistes. Avec cette
nouvelle arrestation, cela porte à dix-neuf le nombre de journalistes
emprisonnés dans le pays. "Après s'en être prises à la presse locale, les
autorités se tournent maintenant vers les correspondants de la presse étrangère.
L'Erythrée est, de loin, le pays le plus répressif du continent en matière de
liberté de la presse", a écrit Reporters sans frontières dans un communiqué. En
septembre 2001, les autorités avaient suspendu tous les journaux privés et
arrêté plusieurs journalistes. Aujourd'hui, seule la presse officielle continue

Akhlilu Solomon, 32 ans, correspondant local de VOA, a été interpellé à son
domicile le 8 juillet. Des officiels ont ensuite annoncé qu'il avait été conduit
dans un camp militaire pour faire son service national obligatoire. Selon VOA,
le journaliste avait déjà effectué une partie de son service national et était
exempté de la suite pour raisons médicales. L'ambassade des Etats-Unis à Asmara
a affirmé avoir pris contact avec le gouvernement érythréen à ce sujet.

Trois médias étrangers disposent désormais de correspondants dans le pays : la
BBC, l'AFP et la Deutsche Welle.

Depuis 1994, tous les Erythréens de plus de dix-huit ans sont obligés
d'accomplir un service national de dix-huit mois, dont six de formation dans un
camp militaire, à Sawa, dans l'ouest du pays.
Reporters sans frontières
Bureau Afrique - Africa desk
[email protected], [email protected]
Tel : 33 1 44 83 84 84
Fax : 33 1 45 23 11 51
5, rue Geoffroy-Marie
75009 Paris

**The information contained in this autolist item is the sole responsibility of

**RSF est responsable de toute information contenue dans ce message**

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