NAIROBI – (WARSOOR) – Reuters cameraman Kumerra Gemechu has been held in solitary confinement for nearly a week without charge or being given any evidence of wrongdoing, his lawyer said.
His lawyer Melkamu Ogo said on Wednesday that police informed him that their lines of enquiry included accusations of disseminating false information, communicating with groups fighting the government, and disturbing the public’s peace and security. However, he said he has seen no evidence.
Kumerra was arrested at his home in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa last Thursday and is being held until at least Jan. 8 pending a police investigation.
Kumerra’s family said he was being held in a cold cell and was sleeping on a mattress on the floor. However, they said they were being allowed to visit Kumerra, as is his lawyer, and have brought him extra clothing, food and medication.
The Ethiopian police and prosecutor’s office did not respond to questions from Reuters on the reasons for Kumerra’s arrest and the conditions in which he is being held, nor requests for comment on his case.
“Kumerra is part of a Reuters team that reports from Ethiopia in a fair, independent and unbiased way,” Editor-in-Chief Stephen J. Adler said in a statement on Monday. “Kumerra’s work demonstrates his professionalism and impartiality, and we are aware of no basis for his detention.”
Similar accusations have been levelled against several other journalists this year, Melkamu said. However, media watchdog groups say in most cases no formal charges were filed.
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