- Eritrean President has rejected the release of a Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak who has been kept in custody since 2001 without trial or sentence. Mr Isaak was arrested seven years ago when the Eritrean government shut down a number of independent newspapers for publishing articles preaching democracy.
President Isias Afeworki who could not reveal the nature and details of Mr Isaak's alleged crime, said the detained journalist would not be released or tried for his crimes, saying the country has its own ways of dealing with criminals.
"It is in the interest of this country and we know what to do. We don't go and negotiate with the Swedish government or those who used him for their own private shady deals," he charged.
Local news reports said Mr Isaak was jailed for writing and publishing articles calling for democracy and freedom in Eritrea.
President Afwerki believes and claims that the pressure put on his country, demanding the release of the journalist and the mounting opposition against his regime, is part of a conspiracy against Eritrea, lead by the US intelligence agency CIA.
Earlier this month, five Swedish editors-in-chief presented the Eritrean embassy a petition signed by over 200,000 people calling for the release of Mr Isaak. It also called for the Eritrean government to charge and sentence him.
Meanwhile, the head of the Moderate Party’s youth wing has also called on the government to free Mr Isaak, saying the kidnap of a journalist was unacceptable.
“I believe Dawit has certain rights as a Swedish citizen and we should protect them,” Moderate Party youth head Niklas Wykman said.
Mr Isaak became a Swedish citizen in 1992 after seeking asylum in 1987. He lived in the west coast city of Gothenburg until 2000 when he returned to Eritrea to work for the independent weekly Setit.
In March 2007, he was awarded a newly created freedom of speech prize by the Swedish Association of Publicists, but was unable to attend the award ceremony in Stockholm.
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