Yassin Juma arrested ‘over language barrier’, his lawyer says

Yassin Juma. [Photo The Star]

Ethiopia’s Attorney-General ordered for the release of Kenyan journalist Yassin Juma who has been in detention for the last 48 days.

Juma was arrested in and has not been formally charged. He was re-arrested last week on Monday shortly after he was released by the lower and upper court in Aradar.

His lawyer, Abdulletif Amee said that the office of the Federal Attorney-General faulted the police for holding him wrongfully.

“According to the Office of the Attorney General, Juma was detained wrongfully because of language barrier,” the lawyer told Nation.

However, he questioned why the Ethiopian government would arrest Juma and go to on hold him in a detention cell for more than 40 days.

“Is it convincing enough to say he was detained because of misunderstanding? Is that a tactic to escape from liability?” posed Amee.
Juma tested positive for COVID-19 last week.

In an open letter that he wrote, Juma described his medical condition as “not so good” doubting if he will make it.

He decried that he has not received any help even with his condition and has been grouped with other inmates who are COVID-19 positive.

“I am currently being held at block (W) with 68 other COVID-19 positive inmates with no access to medication in overcrowded cells, no running water and no diet to assist us with our condition.

“My health is failing with each passing day, and I am not sure if I will make it. It is 50-50 with coronavirus but the conditions in detention make my survival chances less,” he wrote.

He was expected in court on Tuesday together with nine others but he did not show up due to his illness.

The Kenyan government through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs had demanded his “urgent release” for a second time on Monday but Ethiopian authorities were yet to do this.

Yassin was arrested in a wave of protest following the assassination of Oromia musician Hachalu Hundessa.