News / Africa

Ethiopia Releases VOA Correspondent, Drops Charges

VOA's Peter Heinlein investigates wreckage from the "Black Hawk Down" incident near Mogadishu, Somalia, Aug. 13, 2011. (VOA Photo/G. Joselow)
VOA's Peter Heinlein investigates wreckage from the "Black Hawk Down" incident near Mogadishu, Somalia, Aug. 13, 2011. (VOA Photo/G. Joselow)
VOA News
A VOA correspondent and his translator are safe at home with their families Saturday after being detained overnight by Ethiopian police on a charge of "illegal reporting."

Veteran correspondent Peter Heinlein and translator Simegineh Yekoye were arrested Friday as they were leaving a mosque on the outskirts of Addis Ababa. Heinlein told VOA editors Saturday he was questioned at length about the purposes of his reporting.

"We were interrogated by a police officer who told us that we had engaged in illegal reporting. They say that this is a problem area that we had gone into, and that reporters had no business going in there," said Heinlein. "We had a lengthy interrogation and gave a long statement in which he grilled us quite extensively about reporting, and about why, how we had gone to this mosque and what our motives were."


Heinlein said he and Simegineh were released and all charges were dropped after an official from the U.S. Embassy's consular section appeared at the prison Saturday morning. He said computer and recording equipment that were confiscated upon his arrest were returned and that he and Simegineh are in good health.

Voice of America issued a statement from its headquarters in Washington saying it is relieved by Heinlein's release.

It said Heinlein is "a professional and highly respected journalist whose only aim is to provide accurate and balanced coverage of events in Ethiopia.  We are concerned about a pattern of harassment of journalists like Mr. Heinlein, and urge the government to allow them to perform their duties without fear of interference.”

Tom Rhodes, East Africa spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists, told VOA Saturday that his organization is frustrated at what seems to be a shrinking tolerance of foreign journalists by the Ethiopian government.  

"You know, at CPJ we’re incredibly relieved that they have released Peter Heinlein today and that it hasn’t become a long, trumped-up process," Rhodes said. "But we’re also very upset that he was arrested in the first place, because it appears to be that, at least in the earlier reporting we’ve done, that they simply couldn’t find a genuine reason for his arrest."

Heinlein said the arrest appeared to be connected to his reporting on a dispute between Ethiopia's Muslim minority and the government over the leadership of the nation's Muslim community.

He said he and Simegineh appeared to have inadvertently crossed police lines aimed at keeping reporters away from a meeting after Friday prayers at the mosque where the dispute was being discussed.

He said police stopped his car as he and the translator were leaving the mosque, and later took the two of them to a local police station. From there, they were transferred to the city's main police station for questioning.

He said Simegineh had been permitted to return home overnight because there was not a suitable place to keep her in the prison and ordered to return Saturday morning.

Heinlein, an east Africa correspondent based in Addis Ababa, has worked for VOA since 1988.

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: Anonymous2 from: United States
May 25, 2012 6:46 PM
Lets hope for and expect a speedy release of the journalist.

Some of the stories on the Muslim protests that have appeared in recent days seem to be doing a rather poor job of coverage. A Saudi financed Muslim sect protesting is not fairly described as "Muslims" protesting. It doesn't reflect the turbulence in Ethiopian society as foreign parties try to promote their religious views within Ethiopia.


by: Ras Mitat from: USA
May 25, 2012 6:39 PM
So why was the other Western reporter not detained? Could it be because he wasn't using his wife's diplomatic vehicle to bypass police line, like Peter Heinlein?


by: Anonymous
May 25, 2012 4:41 PM
when was Ethiopia jounalist-friendly country?.Why is it that some people have immunity and monopolistic authority to perpetrate crime and arrest jounalists. Are the world truly 'United Nation'? It is absolutely false.Zenawi can do whatever he likes; he blockaded Ogaden, commited war crimes in anuka, and still continues arresting jounalists. it is a SHAME to UN.

Comments page of 2
 Previous    

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid