A British national on death row in Ethiopia is understood to have been pardoned four years after he was detained.
Andargachew Tsege, known as Andy, was detained in Yemen in 2014, abducted from an airport on his way to Eritrea.
He was known as an outspoken critic of the Ethiopian government and had fled the country in the 1970s, seeking political asylum in Britain.
The father-of-three had been sentenced to death in his absence in 2009, and after his kidnap, was held in secret detention and solitary confinement for a year.
The Ethiopians regard him as a terrorist, but his family say he’s simply an outspoken critic of the government.
After four years of his family fighting for his release, along with charity Reprieve, the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Company claims he is one of about 600 people being released by the government.
He could be released in the next two days.
Mr Tsege’s partner, Yemi Hailemariam, said: “I am so thankful that the pain and anguish my children have had to go through could now soon be coming to an end. Helawit, Yilak and Menabe have spent too long without their father and we are all hoping Andy will be free to come home to us soon.”
An FCO spokeswoman said: “Foreign Office staff are assisting a British man following the announcement of a formal Government pardon in Ethiopia, and are in close contact with his family.”
The country’s new prime minister Abiy Ahmed, who came into power in April, has since secured the release of several thousands of prisoners, including high profile journalists and politicians.
The charity fighting for his release claims the UK Government has refused to demand Mr Tsege’s release.
However, in an open letter to Mr Tsege’s supporters in 2017, Boris Johnson wrote: “The British Government continues to take Mr Tsege’s case very seriously and it remains a high priority for us.
“I have personally raised Mr Tsege’s case on numerous occasions with the Ethiopian government.”
Maya Foa, director of Reprieve said: “After four unbelievably hard years for on death row this is wonderful news for Andy, his partner and their children. The new Ethiopian government should be recognised for what they have done today. The most important thing now is that Andy is released from prison and able to reunite with his family as soon as possible.”
Reprieve says, before the announcement of his release, Mr Tsege had not had any private consular visits or been charged with a crime.
More than 60,000 people have signed a petition calling for the release of the North Londoner, while last year, cosmetics company Lush set up a bath bomb campaign to raise awareness of his plight, with the tagline Buy One, Set One Free.
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