08:45, May 27 301 0 theguardian.com

2018-05-27 08:45:11
Ethiopia pardons abducted Briton on death row

A Briton who has spent four years on death row in Ethiopia after being abducted at an airport in Yemen has been pardoned.

Andargachew Tsege, an opponent of the regime in Addis Ababa, first came to the UK in 1979. He holds British citizenship and was sentenced to death in his absence nine years ago. His family in London hope he will be able to return to them soon.

Tsege was abducted during a stopover in Yemen while travelling from Dubai to Eritrea, and forcibly flown to the Ethiopian capital.

He had previously been secretary general of Ginbot 7, an opposition party that called for democracy, free elections and civil rights in Ethiopia.

Last year the heads of both branches of the legal profession in England and Wales had urged the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, to intervene more forcefully in the case.

Johnson had said he would “not interfere in the legal systems of other countries” and that calling for Tsege release would not “be helpful at this stage”.

The human rights organisation Reprieve, which has campaigned to expose rendition cases, said Tsege’s abduction was politically motivated. It welcomed the decision to pardon him.

Maya Foa, the charity’s director, said: “After four unbelievably hard years for on death row this is wonderful news for Andy, his partner and their children. The new Ethiopian government should be recognised for what they have done today. The most important thing now is that Andy is released from prison and able to reunite with his family as soon as possible.”

Tsege’s partner, Yemi Hailemariam, who lives in London with their three children, said: “I am so thankful that the pain and anguish my children have had to go through could now soon be coming to an end. Helawit, Yilak and Menabe have spent too long without their father and we are all hoping Andy will be free to come home to us soon.”