Kenyan Journalist Yassin Juma on Saturday August 29 refuted claims that he opted to stay in Ethiopia, where he was arrested and detained for 49 days on several charges.
Juma was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Oromia musician Hachalu Hundessa, which took place on June 29.
He was seized in Addis Ababa in July and faced charges including incitement and involvement in violence, plotting to create ethnic violence and plotting to kill senior Ethiopian officials.
While being held at a prison in that country, he contracted COVID-19.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the journalist revealed that reports stating he decided to stay in Ethiopia with friends were false.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs earlier disclosed he was free to leave Ethiopia but chose to stay with friends.
Juma explained that the Health ministry in the neighbouring country introduced new travel regulations that hindered him from returning to Kenya.
“The regulations require that I spend 14 days in house isolation and be issued with a COVID-19 status certificate by the federal government upon completion,” he wrote.
“I was ready with my luggage to fly back home immediately after I left the health facility, only to be informed about this regulation. This was clearly communicated to the Kenya embassy upon my discharge from the health center.”
He added that he would look into a way to acquire a certificate issued by the African Union so he can return to his family, friends and supporters.
Juma thanked the public for piling pressure for his release, saying this was the primary reason for his freedom. Rights groups including Human Rights Watch also raised concerns about the journalist’s detention.
According to HRW, Ethiopian authorities have been detaining dozens of opposition members and journalists for prolonged periods and often without charges since late June 2020, raising serious rights concerns.
An Ethiopian court granted Yassin Juma bail on August 15 after police failed to present evidence to prove he committed a crime, but he remained in custody for a few more days.
The Ethiopian Attorney-General then ordered his immediate release, saying he was detained wrongfully because of a language barrier.
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