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Radio France Internationale
Radio France Internationale

French journalist arrested in Ethiopian 'assault on press freedom' says RSF

Headquarters of the African Union, 17 February 2024. REUTERS - STRINGER

A French journalist has been arrested and detained in Ethiopia since 22 February on suspicion of conspiring "to create chaos" in the country, his employer announced on Monday.

Antoine Galindo had travelled to Ethiopia to cover the African Union summit earlier this month for the specialist publication Africa Intelligence.

According to a statement, by the publication, "plainclothes security officers" arrested Galindo on Thursday 22 February at 15.55 local time. He has since then been detained at the Addis Ababa Police Commission in the Bole district, according to the magazine.

Galinda is suspected of "conspiracy to create chaos in Ethiopia" and was brought before a judge on 24 February. "His detention has been extended until 1 March, when the next hearing of his case will take place," Africa Intelligence said, condemning the "unjustified arrest".

"These spurious accusations are not based on any tangible evidence that might justify this extended deprivation of liberty," it said, pointing out that Galindo had informed the Ethiopian authorities of his assignment and had a visa authorising him to work there as a journalist.

"The arrest of French journalist Antoine Galindo in Ethiopia on 22 February is a serious attack on press freedom," according to Christophe Deloire of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The accusations against the journalist of Africa Intelligence are baseless." The Ethiopian authorities must end this arbitrary arrest immediately," according to a statement posted on social media.

Meeting with opposition

The 36-year-old journalist, who heads the publication's East Africa section, lived in Ethiopia between 2013 and 2017 and was "known to the Ethiopia Media Authority", which oversees media accreditations in the country.

According to a source close to the case who spoke to French news agency AFP on condition of anonymity, Galindo was arrested at a hotel in Addis Ababa while meeting an official from the opposition Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) party.

A woman's face is painted with the flag of the Oromo Liberation Front at celebrations in September 2018 to mark the return of the once-banned OLF to Addis Ababa AFP

An OLF spokesman told AFP that a party official was arrested in Addis Ababa on Thursday but could not confirm if Galindo had met the official.

Ethiopian authorities did not respond to AFP requests for comment.

According to RSF, as of January 1 this year, 15 journalists have been jailed in Ethiopia.

In 2023, Ethiopia ranked 130th in the world in terms of press freedom, down 16 places compared to 2022, according to the NGO.

(With newswires)

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