A British citizen and an active voice in Ethiopia’s political opposition in exile, Tsege, now 62, remains in a notorious Ethiopian prison, facing a death sentence.

By Conor Gaffey (Newsweek) |

Six months after her partner Andargachew Tsege was abducted at an airport in Yemen in June 2014, Yemi Hailemariam says she remembers her phone ringing.

It was around 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning in December 2014, six month she had last heard from her partner. “He’s on the phone and I’m like, ‘Where are you?’ He says, ‘I’m still there,’” Hailemariam, 48, tells Newsweek . “You can imagine how stressful it was.”

The “there” that Tsege was referring to was a secret location in Ethiopia, the country where he was born, where security forces had taken him after Yemeni officials detained him at the international airport in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on June 23, 2014. A British citizen and an active voice in Ethiopia’s political opposition in exile, Tsege, now 62, remains in a notorious Ethiopian prison, facing a death sentence. An Ethiopian court tried and convicted Tsege, along with several other political accomplices, of plotting a coup against the country’s government in 2009, and sentenced him to death.

That Sunday morning, Hailemariam was given no explanation as to why Tsege was finally allowed to call her after so many months. After passing the phone to her three children, who had tearful conversations with Tsege, Hailemariam—aware that her partner was probably under observation as he spoke—cautiously told him that the family had not given up on getting him back. “I said, ‘We are working so very hard to get you home.’” But her longtime partner simply replied by telling her not to let their children get their hopes up, in case the worst happened.

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