Kenya: Ethiopia's AG Orders Immediate Release of Yassin Juma

Yassin Juma (file photo).

Ethiopia's Attorney General on Tuesday ordered the release of Kenyan Journalist Yassin Juma, who has been in police custody for 50 days.

Mr Juma's lawyer Abdulletif Amee told the Nation that the Federal Attorney General's office said the Kenyan journalist was wrongfully arrested.

"According to the Office of the Attorney General, Juma was detained wrongfully because of language barrier," Mr Amee said.

Mr Amee, however, questioned the reason the State gave for Mr Juma's wrongful detention.

"Is it convincing enough to say he was detained because of misunderstanding? Is that a tactic to escape from liability?" Abdulletif questioned.

The AG's office could not immediately confirm the new development.

The latest development comes after the trial against Mr Juma and nine other suspects resumed Tuesday morning.

The public prosecutor objected bail grant and requested the court to give him an additional 15 days to conclude investigation.

But the court rejected his request.

Mr Juma was not in court Tuesday because he was in quarantine over Covid-19.

On Tuesday, Kenya, once again, demanded the "urgent release" of Mr Juma.

An Ethiopian court had ordered him freed on bail but authorities are yet to do so.

In a letter to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry, Kenya termed the continued detention of Mr Juma, who contracted Covid-19 in prison last week, as a violation of his rights to justice.

The letter seen by the Nation says Ethiopian authorities should have freed Mr Juma, real name Collins Juma Osemo, on August 5 as ordered by a court after he deposited bail of $85 as directed.

"The Ministry is deeply concerned that despite the decision of the court, Mr Osemo is still in police custody," it says in the letter dated August 12.

"The continued detention of this Kenyan national despite the decision of the court and payment of bail is highly regrettable and has caused immense anguish and anxiety to him, his family, the people and the government of the Republic of Kenya."

However, despite protests from Nairobi, Mr Juma has been held for more than a month now.

In a handwritten letter to the Nation, Juma expressed fears over his deteriorating health while in detention.

Accusations

He was arrested on July 3 in the house of prominent Ethiopian media mogul Jawar Mohammed. Juma, other journalists and several politicians are accused of crimes related to subverting authority.

They are also accused of fomenting violence in the wake of the assassination of popular Ethiopian musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

His detention has raised uproar among Kenyan activists as well as global rights bodies Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

They have all demanded his, and other journalists' release.

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