Andargachew ‘Andy’ Tsege was greeted by hundreds of supporters who gathered outside his parents’ residence in Addis Ababa to celebrate the release of one of Ethiopian government’s most outspoken critics.

By Adrian Blomfield (Telegraph) |

Briton who spent four years on death row in Ethiopia walked out of prison on Tuesday, freed by the regime that once labelled him a “terrorist”.

Andargachew Tsege, who fled to Britain in 1974, was greeted by hundreds of supporters who gathered outside his family’s home in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to celebrate the release of one of the government’s most outspoken critics.

Such scenes in one of Africa’s most repressive regimes would have been unthinkable just a few months ago.

Mr Andargachew, perhaps unable to grasp the scale of Ethiopia’s rapid political thaw, seemed stunned by the reception. “I did not expect this much turn out,” he said, suggesting he did not deserve  it since “four years in prison is not that much of a sacrifice.”

Other dissidents had indeed been incarcerated for longer, though few were captured in such dramatic circumstances. While waiting to catch a connecting flight to Eritrea on 23rd June 2014, Mr Andargachew was seized by armed men in a transit lounge at Sanaa International Airport in Yemen.

He was immediately bundled onto a flight to Addis Ababa, with Ethiopia claiming it had merely extradited one of their most wanted men.

Britain protested, but Ethiopia stood firm: as one of the leaders of Ginbot 7, a group of Ethiopian exiles who had based themselves in neighboring Eritrea, Mr Andargachew was a “traitor” and “coup plotter”.

In the past year, however, Ethiopia’s ruling coalition has been forced to yield to domestic pressure after an ethnic and political crisis threatened to tear apart the old political order.

In the past three months, the Ethiopian government has pardoned more than 10,000 political prisoners. Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, hailed Andy’s release and the broader political significance it portended.

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