EU parliament pushes for Dawit Isaak release

The European Parliament has increased pressure on Eritrea to free Swedish journalist Dawit Isaak. The speaker has demanded Isaak's release along with the other journalists arrested in 2001.

“The time for quiet diplomacy is over. This quite clearly raises the pressure on Eritrea and its president, Isaias Afwerki,” said Liberal party MEP Olle Schmidt to the TT news agency.

Afwerki has so far rejected Sweden’s demands to free the imprisoned Isaak.

The call from the EU parliament is the result of an initiative taken by the Left party MEP, Eva-Britt Svensson, and Olle Schmidt, to raise the issue at EU level. According to the pair, it is a unique step for the EU parliament to take up the issue.

Isaak became known across the union in connection with his nomination for the parliament’s own Sacharov prize.

The speaker of the parliament, Jerzy Buzek, has now pledged to formulate a letter to the Eritrean regime to demand the release of Dawit Isaak and the imprisoned journalists. The Belgian EU commissioner, Louis Michel, will hand over the letter.

“Michel has been in contact with Isaias Afwerki on several occasions previously, in his role as EU commissioner. It places an extra weight behind the demands,” Schmidt told news agency TT.

If the Eritrean president does not respond to the latest initiative then it is hoped that the new EU president, Herman Van Rompuy, and foreign minister, Catherine Ashton, will take up the case.

The two Swedish MEPs will on December 9th arrange a seminar on Dawit Isaak in the parliament.

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