Sweden vows to push for Dawit Isaak's release

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23 Sep, 2012 Updated Sun 23 Sep 2012 12:36 CEST
Sweden vows to push for Dawit Isaak's release

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has said that the government is working to free the Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak, who was imprisoned without trial in Eritrea 11 years ago today.


Following the release of Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye from an Ethiopian jail earlier this month, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Utrikesdepartementet) said it is prioritizing Isaak's case.

However, the Ministry said it cannot reveal details of its diplomatic efforts.

Carl Bildt said that Persson's and Schibbye's case was one of the toughest that the government has handled. The case of Dawit Isaak is even harder, he said, adding that it requires "perseverance and diplomacy on many levels."

Isaak's case is also a priority within the EU, where several statements have been made calling for his release.

Isaak, a married father of three, came to Sweden from Eritrea in 1978 as a refugee. He worked as a cleaner to support himself and gained Swedish citizenship in 1992.

He retained his Eritrean citizenship and returned to his home country at the end of the civil war there, joining Eritrea's first independent publication, Setit.

After writing articles that were critical of the Eritrean regime, Isaak was arrested and imprisoned without access to a lawyer and without a trial.

Isaak's brother, Esayas Isaak, told Sveriges Radio (SR) that Dawit Isaak had returned to Eritrea to work for democracy, knowing that the risks were high.

"Dawit is constantly in our minds, day and night," he said. "We wonder how he is doing and when he will get out. The uncertainty is terribly difficult."

Johan Persson, Martin Schibbye and Esayas Isaak will join a manifestation for imprisoned journalists on Thursday 27th of September. It will take place at the Gothenburg Book Fair and is organized by the Swedish Union of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders.

There are an estimated 150 journalists imprisoned around the world today.

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