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ERITREA

‘Military should free Dawit by force’

The head of the Moderate Party’s youth wing has proposed that the military be called in to free Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak, who has sat in prison in Eritrea for more than seven years.

'Military should free Dawit by force'

“Eritrea and the regime there have chosen to kidnap a Swedish citizen; that is unacceptable. Therefore I think that we should consider a military strike to free Dawit,” Moderate Party youth head Niklas Wykman told the TT news agency.

“I believe Dawit has certain rights as a Swedish citizen and we should protect them.”

He added that his suggestion, detailed in an opinion article published on the Newsmill.se website, deserved serious consideration.

“It is absolutely a serious proposal which I think should be considered,” he said.

Wykman’s views came on the heels of an interview conducted by Sweden’s TV4 with Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki during which he explained that there were no plans to hold a trial for Isaak or to release him.

“Sweden can’t back down from a dictator who unjustly imprisons one of our citizens,” Wykman writes on Newsmill.se.

“We can’t sit quietly and wait for his oppressors to release him.”

Isaak came to Sweden as a refugee more than two decades ago, taking Swedish citizen ship in 1992.

Isaak returned to Eritrea without his family to work for an independent news magazine when the country gained independence.

He was arrested in September 2001, after the magazine published an open letter from political dissidents and has remained in prison ever since.

“Now we see Eritrea’s president saying clearly that he is uninterested in having a dialogue with Sweden. He don’t want any diplomatic negotiations, he doesn’t want a trial, but instead says that they have their own way of handling this. We also have our way of dealing with our citizens, I believe: we should protect them,” Wykman told TT.

Wykman was skeptical about the chances that diplomacy would eventually lead to Isaak’s release.

“Now Dawit has been in prison an incredibly long time and at some point you have to ask yourself how long we can accept that he’s been held kidnapped,” he said.

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ERITREA

Swedish rights group reports Eritrea to police for ‘torture and kidnapping’

Sweden's chapter of Reporters Without Borders has filed a complaint accusing Eritrea's regime of human rights abuses over the imprisonment of Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak in 2001.

Swedish rights group reports Eritrea to police for 'torture and kidnapping'
A sign from a September 2011 demonstration for Dawit Isaak's release
The complaint was directed at Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki and seven other high ranking political leaders, including Foreign Minister Osman Saleh Mohammed.
   
Handed over to Swedish police by RSF and Isaak's brother, the complaint accused them of “crimes against humanity, enforced disappearance, torture and kidnapping”.
   
It was also signed by human rights advocates like Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi and former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay.
   
On September 23, 2001, Isaak was arrested shortly after the Eritrean newspaper he founded, Setit, published articles demanding political reforms.   
 
According to RSF, he and his colleagues detained at the same time are now the journalists who have been imprisoned the longest in the world.
 
 
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Isaak had fled to Sweden in 1987 during Eritrea's struggle against Ethiopia which eventually led to independence in 1993. He returned in 2001 to help shape the media landscape.
   
RSF ranks Eritrea as the world's third most repressive country when it comes to press freedom, behind North Korea and Turkmenistan.
   
Similar complaints have been filed before, including in 2014 when a new law took effect in Sweden enabling the prosecution for such crimes even if committed elsewhere in the world.
   
The prosecutor-general at the time concluded that while there were grounds to suspect a crime and open an investigation, doing so “would diminish the possibility that Dawit Isaak would be freed.”
   
Bjorn Tunback, coordinator for RSF Sweden's work on the Dawit Isaak case, said they hoped this time would be different after Foreign Minister Ann Linde last year said that despite repeated calls for Isaak's release “no clear changes are yet to be noted in Eritrea.”
   
Tunback said the minister's statements indicated that diplomatic channels had been exhausted.
   
“Diplomacy has its course, but when that doesn't lead anywhere, there is also the legal route,” Tunback told AFP.
   
“The law is there to protect individuals… and that is what we're testing now.”
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