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Journalist remains in detention

(RSF/IFEX) - On 29 April 1998, RSF sent an open letter to Eritrean President
Afeworki protesting the continued detention of Ruth Simon, correspondent of
Agence France Presse (AFP) in Eritrea. The journalist, who is also an old
comrade of President Afeworki, was imprisoned on his specific orders. She
has officially been charged with "publishing false information."

**Updates IFEX alert of 16 June 1997**

Background Information

On 25 April 1997, Ruth Simon was arrested after the publication of reports
alleging that President Afeworki had confirmed the presence of Eritrean
soldiers fighting alongside Sudanese rebels. AFP later published a denial by
the central committee of the ruling People's Front for Democracy and
Justice, which described the original report as a "gross distortion" of the
President's statement. According to RSF, Simon was nonetheless placed under
house arrest for betraying President Afeworki's confidence by publishing a
piece of news received in her capacity as someone close to the President,
rather than as a journalist.

RSF claims that President Afeworki has remained deaf to the appeals launched
by the United Nations' arbitrary detention group, at the request of RSF on
28 July and 1 October 1997. This group must rule on whether the detention
is, in fact, arbitrary. Meanwhile an International Conference on Human
Rights will take place on 18 May 1998 in Ethiopia.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to President Afeworki:
  • urging him to show clemency towards Ruth Simon and to secure her immediate

    Appeals To

    Mr. Issayas Afeworki
    President of the State of Eritrea
    Fax: +291 1 125123

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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