Ethiopia police arrest French journalist on suspicion of conspiracy to ‘create chaos’ News
AMISOM Public Information, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Ethiopia police arrest French journalist on suspicion of conspiracy to ‘create chaos’

Ethiopian authorities arrested French journalist Antoine Galindo for allegedly “conspiring with armed groups to create chaos” in the country, his employer announced Monday.

Security forces in civilian clothing arrested Galindo on Thursday at a hotel in the capital, Addis Ababa, while he was interviewing a political officer of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), Bate Urgessa. Since then, they have both been detained at the Adis Ababa Police Commission in the Bole district. After his arrest, the police brought Galindo before a judge on Saturday. He asked to be released on bail, but the court rejected his request and extended his detention until the next court hearing on March 1. The police said they needed to keep the journalist in custody for longer to pursue further investigations and access the reporter’s phone records.

The authorities accused Galindo of conspiring with two armed groups, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) and Fano militia, to spread chaos in Ethiopia. According to Galindo’s employer, despite this serious accusation, the police did not produce any evidence of the charges, and the government did not comment on Galindo’s arrest alongside the Ethiopian politician.

Galindo works for Africa Intelligence, a news website based in Paris that has been present on the African continent since 1981 and published by independent press group Indigo Publications. He arrived in Ethiopia on February 13 to cover the African Union summit and other news.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called for the immediate and unconditional release of Galindo, who was “unjustly” arrested under “alarming circumstances” while he was carrying out his “legitimate journalistic duties.” Indigo Publications group referred to the charges against Galindo as “spurious accusations” that had no base or evidence and pointed out that the French reporter had a visa authorizing him to work as a journalist and had duly informed Ethiopian authorities of his assignment in the country. CPJ and Indigo Publications consider the arrest a serious threat to press freedom.

Clashes erupted in Amhara in July 2023 between armed forces and local militia known as the Fano. The Fano was a key ally of the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF) during the Tigray War. However, the relationship between the government and the authorities weakened over time, especially after the 2022 peace deal wherein the Amhara expressed their anguish as they said that the peace deal failed to address their security concerns from Tigray and Oromiya. Attacks on journalists and freedom of expression have surged in the East African country since these tensions in the Amhara region.