Ethiopia: French Journalist Antoine Galindo Detained in Ethiopia

New York — Ethiopian authorities must immediately and unconditionally release French journalist Antoine Galindo, who was unjustly detained on Thursday under alarming circumstances, the Committee to Protect Journalists said on Monday.

On February 22, at 3:55 p.m., Galindo, who reports for the Paris-based privately owned news website Africa Intelligence, was detained by security forces in civilian clothing in the capital, Addis Ababa, his publisher Indigo Publications said in a statement and his lawyer, who works for the firm Tameru Wondm Agegnehu, told CPJ by phone.

Galindo was detained at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel while interviewing Bate Urgessa, a political officer with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a party legally recognized in Ethiopia, his lawyer said.

"The baseless and unjustified detention of Antoine Galindo for carrying out his legitimate journalistic duties is outrageous and Ethiopian authorities must release him immediately without condition," said Angela Quintal, head of CPJ's Africa program. "Antoine Galindo's arrest is yet another example of the dismal press freedom record in Ethiopia, where at least another eight journalists are behind bars for their work and who must also be released urgently."

Following their arrest, Galindo and Bate were taken to the capital's Bole-Rwanda police station, then to the Bole Sub-City Police Department, where both are currently held, Galindo's lawyer told CPJ.

On Saturday, Galindo appeared before the Addis Ababa City Administration Bole Division Court on allegations of conspiring with two armed groups to incite unrest in the capital--the OLA-Shene, a term used by Ethiopian officials to refer to the decades-old Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) rebel group, and the Fano, a militia in Amhara state that has been fighting federal forces since April 2023.

Despite these serious accusations, police have yet to provide substantive evidence or charge Galindo, according to his lawyer.

In court, Galindo asked to be released on bail, but the police said they needed to keep him behind bars to apprehend other suspects who were "complicit" and to access the journalist's phone records, according to his lawyer, who attended court. The court allowed the police to keep the two men in custody until their next court appearance on March 1, the lawyer said.

Indigo Publications said in its statement that Galindo had been in Ethiopia since February 13 to cover an African Union summit and Ethiopian news, and he had a journalist visa and had informed the government's Ethiopian Media Authority of his assignment. It said that Galindo was suspected of "conspiracy to create chaos in Ethiopia," which it described as a "spurious" accusation "not based on any tangible evidence that might justify this extended deprivation of liberty."

Ethiopia is the second-worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, with at least eight journalists behind bars on December 1, 2023, according to CPJ's latest annual prison census of jailed journalists imprisoned globally. The eight are still jailed, with four of them detained as a result of a state of emergency declared on August 4 in response to the conflict in Amhara state and have never been charged or brought to court.

CPJ's texts and emails requesting comment on Galindo's detention from the Ministry of Justice and federal police did not receive any replies.

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