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Andy Tsege: Freedom fighter set to be freed today

29 May, 2018

Andy Tsege from Upper Holloway has been imprisoned for nearly four years

A FREEDOM fighter illegally held on death row in Ethiopia for four years is set to be freed today.

Andargachew “Andy” Tsege, 63, of Upper Holloway, was abducted in Yemen’s main airport on June 2014 and was transferred to Ethiopia where he was imprisoned.

His family have only spoken to him once on the phone during this time and he has been unable to receive or write letters.

His partner, Yemi Hailemariam, of St John Street, has transformed into an activist fighting to secure his release in recent years.

She even ran against Prime Minster Theresa May in last year’s general election to attract attention to her partner’s illegal imprisonment.

She told the Tribune today: “I am ecstatic and, obviously, the anticipation to talk to him is killing me. I am so eager to speak to him and see him.”

Mr Tsege, a father-of-three and a British citizen, is a prominent opposition politician in Ethiopia where he was born.

He was found guilty of “terrorism” and sentenced in absentia in 2009 while he was living in the UK. He was arrested during a stopover at Yemen airport and held at Kaliti jail, a notorious state prison located just south of the capital Addis Abbaba, commonly referred to as a gulag.

Speaking to the Tribune on Friday before her partner was pardoned, Ms Hailemariam said: “I miss his sincerity. He is becoming like the distant past to me. He’s missed half of his children’s primary school years but I hope that he comes out of prison for the start of their secondary school. I want him to be there for their first day.”

Mr Tsege was pardoned by the newly elected Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Fitsum Arega, wrote on social media website Twitter this morning: “Finding a path towards an enduring peace is a worthy objective that will be pursued in the spirit of our Constitution. As part of this effort, the government will free today about 500 inmates including Andargachew Tsegie from Kality.”

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “Foreign Office staff are assisting a British man following the announcement of a formal government pardon in Ethiopia, and are in close contact with his family.”

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