“There is no way I can go back and live freely in Ethiopia,”       Bilal Worku informs BBC News

23 Jan

Bilal Worku has worked for Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation for nine years (BBC Amharic photo)

Posted by The Ethiopia Observatory (TEO)

A senior journalist for the Ethiopian state broadcaster has refused to return home after travelling to London to cover the UK-Africa Summit.

Bilal Worku, who has worked for Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) for nine years, said he was threatened by high-ranking government officials.

He was part of the team that travelled with Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen for the summit.

Bilal told BBC Amharic that he was fearing for his life.

“There is no way I can go back and live freely in Ethiopia,” Bilal said.

He said that Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s office was interfering with work at the state broadcaster.

“There is no press freedom or editorial independence for that matter. Whenever I try to tell the truth through my work I get threats. I can’t say much as I fear for my family’s safety,” he said.

He has a wife and two children.

EBC’s deputy chief executive AbdelJelil Hamid couldn’t deny allegations about interference by government officials.

“I can’t say that there is no government officials meddling, having a negative impact on journalists, but it is not that serious,” he said.

Bilal is not the first EBC journalist to seek asylum.

“I have colleagues who sought refuge abroad as they feel unsafe in their own country. I made the decision after a thorough discussion with myself,” he said.

Four other journalists have in the past sought asylum.

EBC’s AbdelJelil said the broadcaster was not to blame.

“Unless they have their own personal agenda, the institution couldn’t be the reason for their decision,” he said.

 

/BBC News

 

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