Mobile Menu - OpenMobile Menu - Closed

“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dawit Isaak

 

Dawit Isaak is a writer and journalist with dual Swedish and Eritrean nationality, who was detained without formal charge in Eritrea in September 2001 and has since gone missing.  He was detained alongside ten other independent journalists and eleven politicians, ostensibly for demanding democratic reforms in a series of letters to President Isayas Afeworki.  He was the only Swedish citizen being held as a prisoner of conscience at the time.  In April 2002, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that Isaak had been hospitalized after being tortured; the Eritrean government denied that he’d been tortured but refused to allow any visitors.  In 2005, he was released for two days before being re-imprisoned while on his way to hospital.  In 2009, four of Sweden’s biggest newspapers featured Isaak’s case on their front pages and launched a petition for his release but, the Eritrean president dismissed the issue during a TV interview later that year saying, “We will not have any trial and we will not free him.” 

Updates: 

  • September 23rd marks Isaak's 15th-year anniversary of his imprisonment without trial. Without any confirmation of his whereabout or well-being, Eritrean Foreign Minister Osman Saleh told journalists he is still alive, adding that he and several others will be on trial "when the government decides". The Free Dawit Campaign as well as the Swedish government have been stepping up their efforts. He is believed to be ill. (September 23, 2016, The National).  
  • Dawit Isaak was awarded the 2017 Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize. His daughter, Betlehem Isaak, accepted the award on her father's behalf as his location is presently unknown (March 30, 2017, UNESCO).