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Embassy helping Ethiopia-detained journalist Yassin Juma, Kenya says

Saturday August 01 2020
yassin

Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By AGGREY MUTAMBO

The government says Yassin Juma, the Kenyan journalist detained in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, has been given adequate assistance to defend himself.

A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Mr Juma, whose real name is Collins Juma Osemo, has been granted relevant consular assistance.

Mr Juma, once an investigative journalist for various media outlets in Kenya, was arrested last month in Addis Ababa, and accused of working illegally in the country.

But the actual charges in court said he and four others had been charged with incitement and involvement in violence and plotting to create ethnic violence and to kill senior Ethiopian officials.

ETHIOPIAN POLITICIANS

These charges were also levelled against several opposition politicians, after protests erupted last month from the killing of veteran Oromo Musician and activist Hachalu Hundessa.

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Hundessa, also an activist, was gunned down last month by unknown assailants in Addis Ababa, sparking violent protests in the capital and other urban centres where he was popular.

Police said it arrested 3,500 people after 239 were killed in the protests. Addis Ababa accused Egypt of fomenting domestic trouble ostensibly to divert Ethiopia’s attention from filling the controversial Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam (GERD).

REPRESENTATION

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its embassy in Addis Ababa has been following up on Mr Juma’s arrest and detention at Sostegna police Station in that city.

“On July 20, a consular officer at the embassy visited [Mr Juma] at Sostegna …,” it said in the statement.

Mr Juma earlier told friends and lawyers of his co-accused that he was facing a language barrier and had no legal representation when he was first taken to court in mid-July.

On July 28, he was returned to court for the third time as police sought to detain him further to complete investigations.

The journalist told the court that he had been in Ethiopia legally and was pursuing an online course.

But police reportedly arrested him in the house of opposition politician, Jawar Mohammed, the founder of the Oromia Media Network (OMN).

Mr Mohammed is also being detained in Addis Ababa, accused of undermining authorities.

The Kenyan government says Mr Juma now has a lawyer named Tuli Bayissa and that he “has expressed confidence in him”.

“The embassy is following up on the matter and according him any necessary assistance,” Jane Kariuki, the Head of Public Affairs at the Ministry, said on Friday.

Mr Juma will return to court on August 5.

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