Andargachew Tsege– also known as Andy – is a father of three from London. A prominent figure in Ethiopian politics, in June 2014 he was kidnapped and rendered to Ethiopia on the command of the Ethiopian government, as part of a brutal crackdown on political opponents and civil rights activists.
After being kidnapped, Andy was held in secret detention in solitary confinement for over a year. He has been paraded on Ethiopian TV looking ill and gaunt. Andy is held under a sentence of death that was handed down in absentia while he was living in London.
Andy was born in Ethiopia and is a well-known and respected critic of the Ethiopian government. In recent years he has spoken out about the current regime’s poor human rights record in front of US Congress and the EU’s Committee on Human Rights. Andy fled Ethiopia in the 1970s after facing serious threats from the then-government for his democratic political beliefs. His younger brother had already been murdered by government security forces. Andy was granted political asylum in the UK in 1979, then later became a British citizen and started a family in London.
On 23 June 2014, Andy was abducted from an airport in Yemen while waiting to catch a flight to Eritrea. It was only two weeks later that Ethiopian officials admitted to the UK government that they had kidnapped him. They had forced him onto a plane and unlawfully ‘rendered’ him to Ethiopia. In 2009, he was sentenced to death in absentia following a trial which violated basic fair trial standards. Following his kidnap, Andy was held in secret detention and in solitary confinement for over a year, without being subjected to any form of due process.
In July 2014, 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 like Andy are routinely abused in order to extract information and false confessions. In around July 2015, he was moved to the infamous Kality prison, dubbed “Ethiopia’s gulag”.
Andy does not have any way to communicate with his partner or his three children in London. Throughout his ordeal, Andy has not had a single private consular visit. He has not been charged with any crime or subjected to any legal process. Andy’s partner Yemi, their teenage daughter and young twins are desperately worried about him. Reprieve is calling on the US and UK governments to do all they can to investigate Andy’s kidnap and brutal imprisonment and secure his immediate release.