Johnson 'not helping' Briton held on death row – Sky News

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is not doing enough to press for the release of a British man on death row in Ethiopia, it has been claimed.

Andargachew Tsege was seized while travelling through an airport in Yemen in 2014, before being forcibly taken to Ethiopia.

Mr Tsege, known as Andy, is a vocal critic of the government in Addis Ababa and had been convicted of treason and sentenced to death five years before his detention.

A High Court challenge to force Mr Johnson to do more to secure Mr Tsege’s release failed, and the Foreign Secretary used the decision as a reason for not talking about the case in the Commons.

Mr Johnson did publish an open letter outlining the Foreign Office’s position in August in which he said “Mr Tsege’s case remains a high priority for the British Government”, adding “we take his welfare very seriously”.

Campaigners have called for the release of the Briton held in Ethiopia
Image Caption:
Campaigners have called for the release of the Briton

Maya Foa, from the human rights group Reprieve, has described Mr Tsege’s treatment as “appalling”.

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She told Sky News: “It’s yet another obfuscation by the Foreign Secretary and instead of really looking at this case for what it is, an egregious series of unlawful acts perpetrated against a British national, Boris Johnson is saying he can’t answer questions on the case.

“Why? Because he doesn’t have the answers because they’re not doing the right thing.”

Mr Tsege, who became a British citizen after fleeing Ethiopia in 1979, served as a member of the Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7.

Ababi Demissie, a minister for public diplomacy based at the Ethiopian Embassy in London, told Sky News the Briton was seized under a treaty with the Yemen government.

Dominic Grieve on All Out Politics
Grieve: ‘Mr Tsege is a British National’

He said: “Of course he is a terrorist and many people know that.

“We rendered him while travelling to Eritrea. Why was Andargachew flying to Eritrea?

“He was going not for holidays, not to visit his family. He was going to train other fighters to create more chaos and attacks on Ethiopia.”

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Mr Tsege’s family say he’s innocent and claim the Foreign Office hasn’t done enough to help him.

Yemi Hailemariam, his partner and the mother of his three children, said: “He is not a terrorist.

“The Ethiopian government label anybody and everybody that dissent as a terrorist.

“I’ve been termed a terrorist.”

When he was still Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond visited Addis Ababa and raised the issue with government ministers.

Mr Tsege's partner Yemi Hailemariam says she has been 'termed a terrorist'
Image Caption:
Mr Tsege’s partner Yemi Hailemariam says she has been ‘termed a terrorist’

But despite the controversial manner in which he was convicted and then captured, the Government says it will not call for Mr Tsege to be released.

However, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell has asked the Ethiopian government to release Mr Tsege.

He said: “I think the way he was rendered from Sana’a is completely unacceptable and it’s out with international law so that is an issue.

“But what we need here is for the Foreign Office to address this with the government of Ethiopia.

“Both governments have got a very strong interest in resolving this matter which is a considerable thorn of contention between the two countries.”

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