UK diplomats clash over Andargachew Tsige By (DAILY MAIL)

January 25th, 2015 Print Print Email Email

An explosive row has erupted between diplomats and Ministers over their reluctance to help a British man on death row in Ethiopia.

A series of extraordinary emails, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, reveal officials’ increasing frustration at political inaction over Andargachew Tsege.

Tsege, 59, a father-of-three from London, was snatched at an airport in Yemen last June and illegally rendered to Ethiopia. There are concerns he may have been tortured.

Yet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he could not ‘find time’ for a phone call to raise the issue and did not want to send a ‘negative’ letter.

In one email, an exasperated official asks: ‘Don’t we need to do more than give them a stern talking to?’

Tsege, who has lived in the UK since 1979, has been called Ethiopia’s Nelson Mandela. Tsege fell out with his university friend ex-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, after he exposed government corruption and helped establish a pro-democracy party.

In 2009, he was sentenced to death in his absence for allegedly plotting a coup and planning to kill Ethiopian officials – claims he denies.

He was abducted on June 23 while en route to Eritrea, emerging two weeks later in Ethiopia, where he has since been paraded on TV. It is not known where he is being held.

The diplomatic exchanges disclose how officials were dismayed when British Ministers rejected requests to raise the case with Ethiopia.

‘I feel so shocked and let down,’ said Tsege’s wife Yemi Hailemariam. ‘I thought Britain was a nation driven by fairness but it seems my husband’s life is simply not valued.’

The series of emails begins on July 1, with Foreign Office officials confirming his capture: ‘His detention in Yemen is significant news, and could get complicated for the UK.’

Diplomats noted that neither Yemen nor Ethiopia informed Britain about the rendition of its citizen. ‘It feels a bit like I’m throwing the kitchen sink at the Yemenis but I want them to think twice before they do this again,’ wrote one senior figure at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa.

He also noted that a prominent Ethiopian minister had given assurances over Tsege’s treatment –‘but I wouldn’t take them with complete confidence’.

Ethiopia has claimed Tsege tried to recruit other Britons to become involved in terrorism. But the regime has used anti-terror laws to jail journalists and silence political rivals, and UK officials had not seen credible evidence.

One diplomatic cable says: ‘All we have seen are a few pictures of him standing in an Eritrean village – hardly proof that he was engaged in terrorist training.’

Three weeks after Tsege’s kidnap, the Foreign Office’s Africa director wrote that Ministers ‘have so far shied away from talking about consequences… their tone has been relatively comfortable’.

On July 21, Hammond’s office was still reluctant to talk to his Ethiopian counterpart on the phone.
‘I don’t think we are going to be able to find time for that at the moment,’ wrote his private secretary. He also turned down sending a ‘negative’ letter, asking for it to be rewritten ‘setting out areas of co-operation. It can end with a paragraph on the Tsege case.’

Despite concerns over Ethiopia’s human rights record, the nation receives £376 million a year in UK aid. One farmer there is suing Britain, claiming the money was used to usurp him from his land.
Hammond is believed to have finally called his counterpart at the end of July, one month after the kidnap. It is understood he focused on requesting consular access rather than condemning the capture.

Reprieve, which campaigns against the death penalty said: ‘These shocking emails show the Foreign Secretary appears to have blocked any meaningful action that could potentially bring this British father home to his family, unharmed.’

The Foreign Office said they were ‘deeply concerned’ by Tsege’s detention and were lobbying for further consular access as well as seeking confirmation the death penalty would not be carried out.

Source: … ution.html

  1. From Michigan University
    | #1

    Coup deta attempt and to terrorize and assassination attempt of elected officials is a serious crime in most civilized countries world wide included in Ethiopia. Even in most liberal international code of law can not defend such violent intent, since it violates the very basic fundamental civility.
    This is why I do not see easy way out to Mr. Andargachew Tsige.

  2. Eagle Eye
    | #2


    The British tried to undermin Ethiopias Justice system by demanding to free convicted criminal (Tsige), I guess according to whites(BRITS) that black people’s social order and courts count for nothing.

  3. Dr kosta kents
    | #3

    Eagle eye or evil eye?! Yegimel shint! Indegimel wedehuala atshina plz! 98% ethiopian ppl love andargachew /ethio mandella/ !!!!! Weyane is real terrorist not ethiopian ppl! Endland was the workshop pf the world! The sun never sets in england! So weyane better watch his back! They/british/ can kick weyanes ass in a minute with out war!

  4. Godfathet
    | #4

    It is s little an usually for somebody from higher institution in American University were freedom of speech is free to say un elected officials in Ethiopia to make them look like legitimate is a shame.

  5. Tazabe
    | #5


    The Britsh gov never tried to free the pro freedom fighter Nilson Mandela but locked me up in prison for 29 years.
    History teaches us that The British gov is the most violent criminal and bloodiest gov ever. Even here in America they had slaughtered hundreds and thousands of pro freedom fighter Americans during civil war and after the civil war.
    Brits roll in Africa and middle eastern history always had been and still is hidden blackmailing mission and oppression by undermine good governance of African governments by encouraging civil war among Africans and by promoting negative individuals in order to blackmail Africans in order to keep Africans the underclass of the world and to exploite its natural resources indirectly.

  6. Worku tesfaye
    | #6

    Why some peoples saying ‘Andargachew’ vs mandela
    i dont belief zat effectiveness of zos guirela fighters to gain land againest gov.
    Even epdrf soldiers are our brozers .so civil war should be nvr attempted again.
    Peacefull demonstration and protest may excersice and activities awarenes toward needed.
    Why un able ?

  7. Die hard G7
    | #7

    Our goal is to librate our mother land from the fascist Junta; the case of Andragachew and thousands of others who became the victim of this evil fascist regime will be settled after the total distraction of the current fascist regime. Destroying the fascist Tplf regime only done by Patriotic Ethiopians not by the British, Americans, or canadians.

  8. Mesfine
    | #8


    If you gamble your life by committing direct or in indirect terrorist act, then you should expect to pay the price with your life.

  9. Die hard G7
    | #9

    Mesfine, How do explain the brutality of your civilized soldiers act
    Who didn’t even spare a seven year pregnant women who participated
    Last week’s Demo? Life has two Choices; either you live free or you
    Die. The choice is obviously not the latter. We therefore must kill
    all the fascist Tplf gangs and it’s collaborates. No worry, no hurry
    We will be Addis pretty soon.

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