Dawit Isaak has been in prison longer than any other journalist in the world

Dawit Isaak
Dawit Isaak

source: Washington Post
published: 12 July 2021

The continuing war in Ethiopia has shocked the world with its brutality and also offers a reminder of the viciousness of the dictatorship in neighboring Eritrea, which has welcomed the chance to settle scores with old foes across the border by intervening in the fighting.

Yet the atrocities committed by Eritrean forces in this conflict will come as little surprise to those who have followed President Isaias Afwerki’s efforts to transform his country into one of the world’s most relentless autocracies. And no one embodies the victims of his regime better than Dawit Isaak, a prolific writer and courageous journalist who may soon mark the 20th anniversary of his imprisonment.

On Sept. 23, 2001, Eritrean security forces arbitrarily detained Isaak — then reporting for Eritrea’s first independent newspaper, Setit – without charge or trial along with at least 10 other independent journalists. Isaak, a dual Eritrean-Swedish citizen, was unexpectedly released for medical treatment in 2005 but arrested again two days later. Nothing has been heard of him since.

His present condition and whereabouts are unknown (though we have reason to hope that he is still alive). Some of the journalists arrested with him have already died in detention. Isaak and his colleagues are the longest detained journalists in the world today.

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