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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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