About the case
Andargachew Tsege – also known as ‘Andy’ or ‘Gacho’ – is a father of three from London. He is being held in incommunicado detention in Ethiopia, having been kidnapped in Yemen in June 2014.
Born in Ethiopia, Andy is a well-known and respected critic of the Ethiopian government; in recent years, he has spoken about the country’s poor human rights record in front of the US Congress and the EU’s Committee on Human Rights.
He has lived in the UK since 1979, when he sought political asylum after facing serious threats from the then Ethiopian government for his democratic political beliefs. A few years earlier, his younger brother Amha had been murdered by government security forces.
On 23 June 2014, Andy was seized during a stopover in Yemen whilst en route to Eritrea. Two weeks later, Ethiopian officials admitted to the UK government that they were behind his kidnap; they had placed him onto a plane and unlawfully ‘rendered’ him to Ethiopia.
Andy faces a death sentence in Ethiopia, imposed in absentia on politically-motivated charges, during mass proceedings held in violation of basic fair trial standards. His seizure comes amid a sweeping, brutal crackdown by the Ethiopian regime against dozens of political activists, academics and journalists ahead of the country’s national elections next year.
Andy is being held in incommunicado detention. The Ethiopian authorities have not allowed British consular staff proper access to him, and his family is denied visa hence stopped from visiting him.
In July, Ethiopian state TV aired a heavily-edited video of Andy apparently ‘confessing’ to a number of offences. In the video, he appears gaunt and disoriented, and has noticeably lost weight. Screaming can be heard in the background.
Torture in Ethiopian prisons is extremely widespread, and political detainees such as Andy are routinely subjected to severe abuse in order to extract information and confessions. A 2013 Human Rights Watch report documented serious human rights abuses, unlawful interrogation tactics, and dismal detention conditions.
Andy’s partner Yemi, their teenage daughter and nine-year-old twins have grave fears for his safety. Reprieve is calling on the UK government to do all it can to investigate the kidnap of one of its citizens and secure Andy’s immediate release.
Sign this 38 Degrees petition calling on Prime Minister David Cameron to do all he can to free Andy!