MEKELLE, 1 March 2021 – Four local fixers for foreign media outlets in Ethiopia’s Tigray region have been detained by the military, the BBC reported Monday.
Fitsum Berhane, a fixer for the French News Agency (AFP) and Alula Akalu, a fixer for the Financial Times, were respectively arrested Friday and Saturday in Mekelle, capital of the country’s northern region of Tigray.
Berhane was arrested at his home in Mekelle by uniformed Ethiopian soldiers on Friday night, according to his family.
Akalu was picked up in a restaurant in Mekelle on Saturday by three soldiers in uniform and one in plain clothes.
The journalists have been detained ever since the weekend in a military camp in Mekelle.
No charges have been pressed against the two and they are yet to be appear in court.
A third journalist, Tamirat Yemane, who works for a local news outlet was detained by the military last Saturday as well.
A third man, a journalist named Temrat Yemane, was also arrested in Mekele, the Tigrayan capital.
Late Monday, the BBC reported that one of its journalists, Girmay Gebru, had been detained by the military in Mekelle.
Ethiopia’s ruling party warned on Thursday that the government was going to “take measures against those misleading international media”.
Foreign journalists were finally allowed last week to access Tigray after three months of no access to the region where federal forces launched a war against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) last November 4.
Seven international media organizations, including the BBC, AFP and the Financial Times, have been given accreditations to travel to and access Tigray.
Over the weekend, the AFP and the Financial Times said they are working to secure the release of the fixers.
“We are are taking all possible steps to ensure the release of translators Alula Akalu and Fitsum Berhane, who were arrested while working for the FT and AFP respectively on a government-authorised press trip in Mekelle, Ethiopia,” the Financial Times and the AFP said in a joint statement.
“Our concerns have been raised with the relevant authorities as we work to understand the reasons for the arrests,” the statement added.