Reporters Without Borders is happy to learn of the release on bail of six Eritrean journalists who had been held since a wave of arrests in February 2009.
They are Bereket Misghina, Yirgalem Fisseha Mebrahtu and Basilios Zemo of Radio Bana, Meles Negusse Kiflu, who worked for Radio Bana and Radio Zara, Girmay Abraham of Radio Dimtsi Hafash and Petros Teferi.
“We are delighted to learn of the release of these six journalists, which is an exceptional development in the terrible conditions prevailing in Eritrea, said Cléa Kahn-Sriber, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Africa desk. At this point, we don’t have additional information about the circumstances of their release or their state of health. We will obviously follow the situation closely.”
At least seven other journalists who were rounded up in February 2009 – Mohammed Said Mohammed, Biniam Ghirmay, Esmail Abd-el-Kader, Araya Defoch, Mohammed Dafla, Simon Elias and Yemane Hagos – were released on bail in March 2013.
The most dramatic event in the February 2009 wave of arrests was a raid on Radio Bana, a small radio station in the centre of the capital that broadcast educational programmes sponsored by the education ministry. All of its staff – about 50 journalists – were taken to Dobozito detention centre on the outskirts of the capital without any explanation being given.
According to the figures compiled by Reporters Without Borders, 16 other journalists, including Dawit Isaak and Seyoum Tsehaye, continue to be detained in Eritrea.
Eritrea is ranked last in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index for the seventh year running.