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Thursday 11th
posted by Morning Star in Britain

by Felicity Collier

BORIS JOHNSON must push for the release of a British father illegally detained on death row in Ethiopia when he meets the country’s prime minister today, legal action charity Reprieve is demanding.

Andy Tsege, a prominent Ethiopian civil rights activist who fled to Britain in the 1970s in fear of his life, was tried in absentia during a brutal government crackdown on the opposition in 2009.

Despite not having set foot in the country for a decade, he was convicted of terrorism offences and sentenced to death.

In June 2014, he was illegally kidnapped in a Yemeni airport and rendered to Ethiopia where he was held in solitary confinement for a year without due process before being transferred to the infamous Kality prison.

Despite having gained political asylum in Britain and having three children and a partner in London, the British government has refused to do anything for Mr Tsege.

Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Tsege’s MP, has repeatedly raised the case and was even turned away from Ethiopia in February 2015 when he sought to intercede on his behalf.

Reprieve called on Mr Johnson to act when he meets Ethiopian PM Hailemariam Desalegn at the London Somalia Conference today.

Reprieve’s deputy director Harriet McCulloch said: “Boris Johnson is rolling out the red carpet for a man who has overseen the scandalous kidnap and rendition of a British dad — Andy Tsege, who now languishes on death row.

“Andy and his family have been through a horrifying ordeal at the hands of Hailemariam Desalegn’s government.

“Boris Johnson must use this rare chance to seek Andy’s urgent return home, before it’s too late.”

Last year, Mr Tsege’s wife Yemi Hailemariam, who is not allowed to visit her husband, said of his imprisonment: “There is no place more dangerous for him in the world.

“Here in London, I look at our three children and it just breaks my heart.

“It is especially hard on them. Sometimes the children cry and talk about their fears that their papa may not come home.”

A petition set up by the charity Reprieve calling for Mr Tsege’s release has gained over 55,000 signatures so far.

Mr Johnson boasted of making progress in Mr Tsege’s case after a visit to Ethiopia in March, saying he had received a promise that the jailed Brit would have access to a lawyer.

But the pledge is next to useless as numerous Ethiopian government officials have said that no appeal process is available to Mr Tsege.