Daughter expresses anger over Britain’s refusal to help father
THE NINE-YEAR-OLD daughter of a British activist who was kidnapped and renditioned to Ethiopia is suing the British government over its refusal to call for his return.
Lawyers for Menabe Andargachew, a joint US-British citizen living in London, have begun judicial review proceedings against the Foreign Office over ministers’ handling of the case of her father, Andargachew “Andy” Tsege.
British citizen Mr Tsege was kidnapped and illegally rendered to Ethiopia by US forces in June 2014.
He remains there under a death sentence which was imposed in absentia in 2009 for his political opposition to the Ethiopian government.
Legal action charity Reprieve, which is representing Menabe, says that, with the exception of one brief telephone conversation in 2014, Mr Tsege has not been allowed to speak to his family.
He has also been denied access to a lawyer, the charity said. Mr Tsege was not brought before any court and the Ethiopian prison authorities continue to deny that he is in their custody. Torture is common in Ethiopia and there are fears for his wellbeing, Reprieve said.
In emails obtained by Reprieve in 2014, British officials said they “have not been shown any evidence [against Mr Tsege] that would stand up in a UK court.”
In the internal documents obtained by Reprieve, British officials said they believed Mr Tsege’s rendition to Ethiopia to be “completely unacceptable,” with some asking whether Britain had a basis for a “legal challenge.”
However, the British government has refused to ask Ethiopia to release Mr Tsege.
Lawyers for Menabe argue that given the illegality of his kidnapping, detention and death sentence, Britain’s decision not to ask for his release — something it has done in other similar cases — is unlawful.
Reprieve death penalty director Maya Foa said: “Andy Tsege has been subjected to a series of shocking breaches of international law by a supposed UK ally — from kidnap, to rendition, to an in absentia death sentence — simply because he expressed criticism of the Ethiopian regime.
“It’s deeply disappointing, and simply irrational, that the British government refuses to ask for his release and put an end to these abuses. Enough is enough — ministers must call on Ethiopia to free Andy and return him to his family without delay.”