LONDON, 27 December 2020 – Reuters on Monday condemned the arrest and detention of one of its cameramen, Kumerra Gemechu, in Ethiopia.
Police who arrested, handcuffed and took him away from his home in Addis Ababa on Thursday also seized his phone and computer, Reuters reported citing family sources.
Ten police officers took him away in front of his wife, Hawi Desalegn, and his three children.
Kumerra Gemechu’s eldest daughter, aged 10, clung to him, screaming as he was led away, according to family sources.
Police also took away flash drives and papers from his home.
Ethiopian police have neither said why he was arrested nor why he is still being detained.
Kumerra Gemechu, 38, covered the armed conflict in Ethiopia’s northern Tigray region for Reuters.
He has been a freelance photographer with Reuters covering Ethiopia for a decade, according to the global wire service.
Police assaulted another Reuters photographer, Tiksa Negeri, two weeks earlier, according to Reuters.
“Journalists must be allowed to report the news in the public interest without fear of harassment or harm, wherever they are. We will not rest until Kumerra is freed,” Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said in a statement.
A judge on Friday ordered an additional 14 days of detention for Kumerra Gemechu to give police time to investigate.
The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists has decried the continued detention of the photographer.
This is “the latest example of how press freedom is fast eroding under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed”.
The Ethiopian government denies that it is clamping down on press freedom.
The United States has spoken out against the detention of Kumerra Gemechu, stressing the need for Addis Ababa to respect the role of a free press in a democracy..