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Reuters cameraman arrested in Ethiopia

Reuters cameraman arrested in Ethiopia
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A cameraman for Reuters was arrested in Ethiopia after police raided his home and confiscated his computer, phone and other materials, Reuters reported Monday.

In a statement, the news agency condemned the Thursday arrest and stated that 38-year-old Kumerra Gemechu had not been given a reason for his detention and had been arrested in front of his wife and children.

The Reuters cameraman had reportedly been involved in covering fighting between government troops and rebel forces in the northern Tigray region.

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“Kumerra is part of a Reuters team that reports from Ethiopia in a fair, independent and unbiased way. Kumerra’s work demonstrates his professionalism and impartiality, and we are aware of no basis for his detention,” Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen Adler said.

“Journalists must be allowed to report the news in the public interest without fear of harassment or harm, wherever they are. We will not rest until Kumerra is freed,” Adler continued.

Though Kumerra was not given a reason for his arrest, a judge reportedly saw his case Friday and granted police two weeks to investigate him, with Kumerra set to remain detained for the time being. Authorities have reportedly cracked down on journalists covering the government's fighting in Tigray over the past several months, and a handful have been arrested.

Spokespersons for the government did not respond to Reuters's request for comment. The Committee to Protect Journalists, which reported earlier this month that a record number of journalists were jailed worldwide in 2020, called Kumerra's arrest “the latest example of how press freedom is fast eroding under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed after a short-lived hope of reform" in a statement Monday to the news agency.