UK diplomats clash over Briton on death row in Ethiopia: Officials’ fury after Foreign Secretary claims he couldn’t ‘find time’ to help father-of-three facing execution
An explosive row has erupted between diplomats and Ministers over their reluctance to help a British man on death row in Ethiopia.
A series of extraordinary emails, obtained by The Mail on Sunday, reveal officials’ increasing frustration at political inaction over Andargachew Tsege.
Tsege, 59, a father-of-three from London, was snatched at an airport in Yemen last June and illegally rendered to Ethiopia. There are concerns he may have been tortured.
Yet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he could not ‘find time’ for a phone call to raise the issue and did not want to send a ‘negative’ letter.
In one email, an exasperated official asks: ‘Don’t we need to do more than give them a stern talking to?’
Tsege, who has lived in the UK since 1979, has been called Ethiopia’s Nelson Mandela. Tsege fell out with his university friend ex-Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, after he exposed government corruption and helped establish a pro-democracy party.
In 2009, he was sentenced to death in his absence for allegedly plotting a coup and planning to kill Ethiopian officials – claims he denies.
He was abducted on June 23 while en route to Eritrea, emerging two weeks later in Ethiopia, where he has since been paraded on TV. It is not known where he is being held.
The diplomatic exchanges disclose how officials were dismayed when British Ministers rejected requests to raise the case with Ethiopia