A British man currently on death row in Ethiopia has asked the UK ambassador to make sure that he is buried in England during a meeting that highlighted serious concerns over the handling of his case and his treatment in prison.
BuzzFeed News has seen a redacted copy of notes written by ambassador Greg Dorey of his meeting with Andargachew Tsege, 59, at Kality prison near Addis Ababa on 15 October.
Tsege, a father of three from north London, was snatched by Ethiopian security forces at an airport in Yemen last June while he was waiting for a flight to Eritrea. He was taken to Ethiopia having been sentenced to death in his absence for allegedly plotting a coup and planning to kill Ethiopian officials, allegations he denies.
Campaigners claim the real reason he faces execution is that he fell out with former prime minister Meles Zenawi after exposing government corruption.
Dorey writes in his notes that Tsege told him his status in Kality Prison was odd, “since he had no ‘warrant number’ (i.e. prisoner number), so he was ‘not even in the system’”.
Nothing had been said to Tsege about charges against him, Dorey writes, and so a formal charge sheet had been demanded. “He had only heard on radio, TV and the internet about previous charges against him,” Dorey says, “and had the right to know why he was in prison.”
The notes continue: “At this point he became a little more emotional. He said he would ‘take his own measures … I will not allow myself to be debased and dehumanised’ (no further details).”
The ambassador’s notes conclude:
Tsege told the ambassador he was sleeping in a small cell with three other people and had not been outside the prison at any point. He said he was occasionally being visited by his 90-year-old father and his stepmother.
He said he picked up news from listening to other inmates’ TVs, and expressed surprise that his MP, Jeremy Corbyn, was now leader of the Labour party – “interesting, obviously the party is moving to the Left”.
He spoke at length to the ambassador about his political views. Dorey’s notes read: