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Where is Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu?

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed (Somali Mirror)

Eritrean Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed, government spokesman and censor-in-chief of the Red Sea nation, has been invisible in the past few weeks. The total absence of any independent press in Eritrea has allowed the government to maintain complete silence in the face of mounting questions and surging Internet rumors of his defection.

It was on November 17 that U.K.-based Eritrean opposition news website Assena first reported, citing unnamed sources, that Ali had sought asylum in Canada. Ten days later, Madote, a pro-government site, dismissed the Assena report and claimed, citing unnamed witnesses who reported by phone, that Ali was "seen walking in the capital and discussing with citizens."

Radio France Internationale reported on December 18 that Ali had defected in late November during a business trip to Europe and that his home had been searched by security agents. An editorial on U.S.-based Eritrean news site Awate criticized the impulse to pursue scoops on Ali's whereabouts at the expense of investigative reporting and analysis of the reasons behind his possible disappearance.

Amid the contradicting reports, few facts are available. International media and exiled Eritrean journalists agree that Ali traveled to Europe in September before disappearing from view some time in November. Ali is still listed as the minister of information on the government's news portal Shabait, and the dedicated "Contact Ali Abdu" link is still there. Yet, based on images broadcast on state-controlled ERI-TV, Ali was absent from the most recent meeting of cabinet ministers. Was Ali traveling or sick? With the government's absolute stranglehold on news and information, it is virtually impossible to know the truth. "I called the Ministry of Information and the rude bitch hanged up on my face. #WheresAliAbdu +291117111 #smh," tweeted @EriRevoltMay24, a diaspora opposition activist, on December 17.

Eritrea is the most censored country in the world, according to CPJ research. The government operates under an Orwellian system of control; all media is state owned, and journalists who have fled into exile say that Ali directed every detail of coverage. The last accredited foreign correspondent was expelled in 2007. The fates of independent journalists who disappeared into government custody since a September 2001 crackdown remain a state secret, and the government has all but erased the detainees from public record and memory. Ali is believed to be a keeper of such secrets.

Thus far, the only official reaction to the disappearance of Ali was registered on Twitter when Eritrea's Ambassador to Japan, Estifanos Afeworki, responded to a question asked by Sweden-based journalist and activist Meron Estefanos on December 17. "Mr Ambassador, care to comment about the whereabouts of Eritrea's Information Minister Ali Abdu?" tweeted Meron. "The whereabouts of Ali or his like is not a priority in Eritrea. In our democracy tolerance is fundamental. Why?" responded the diplomat. Jumping into the conversation, Eritrean-American journalist Salem Solomon insisted: "he's the #Eritrean information minister (public office) & I think it's a legit Q." The diplomat would not budge, ending the engagement with "Ali is right person 2 give answer if any not me."

In the absence of answers, the questions persist, particularly online. The search term "Ali Abdu" peaked in mid-November before dipping, but it's on the rise again, according to Google Trends.  "We just launched our #WhereisAli milk cartons, trying to track down the missing Minister of Information," tweeted @EriRevoltMay24 on December 20.

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Comments

So what is a big deal? Ali go Ali come.

we need to find him,man is missing''''

Dear Mr. Mohamed Keita,

I understand you are one of the vociferouse oppenent of Eritrea:Your report hear and say with out a proper investigation and journalistic professional conduct and ethic. However you could not be any different from other so called free media are in the same game that you are, inform to disinform, and this says a lot about the respect and value you have in your proffesion just through out truth integrity and fill your pockets few dollars.

Who cares about Ali Abdu ?
Just forget taking about the stupid dictator's right hand waisting our time.
We have a lot important issues to talk how to safe our people .

If you are professional advocacy coordinator for CPJ's Africa Program you shouldn't never call to anyone rude and bitch

Press freedom is basic.

ali is a criminal. he put our journalists in prison. they are languishing in pfdj prisons now thanks to him. but he ran away. no civilized people should grant this monster a safe haven. he has blood in his hands. he is one. but he is responsible for the lose of many lives of Eritrean journalists. the ex-right hand man of the lunatic dictator is seeking asylum. he left our journalists in those jails to die. judgement day is very near. others should learn from the atrocities this man committed against our people, our country, against freedom of expression..etc.

I've this morning called the CPJ office and requested that the offensive reference degrading women be removed from their website irrespective of this being a quote of someone else.

I urge us all to remain respectful of women no matter on whose side they're. It diminishes us all when offensive and dehumanizing words are used to refer to women.

amanuel

Ali is a brave man who grew under the treatment of the Eritrean revolutionary value.He is the the most young supper genes minister in Eritrea. After time ,the people of Eritrea is waiting him to replace our brave president Issaya Afewerki .We wish him good luck and happy business time where ever he is.

Please refrain from using defamatory language in reference to Eritrean women. Freedom of speech does not mean you have the freedom to harass, intimidate or threaten those who disagree with your methods.

Eritrea has the right to deny CPJ and others information if it wants to. Eritrea is a sovereign nation and will not allow CPJ or any other cyber group to violate its sovereign rights.

Sophia Tesfamariam December 28, 2012 2:00:08 PM ET

Where is the outcry over the atrocities committed by Ali Abdu? Where is the outrage that high official has dropped from sight with no reason given!

The rumours to whereabouts Ali Abdu licked from Assena.com and this site seems to work with PDGF (Eritrean Government). He brought news not true most the time, I mean there are a lot to talk or expand news in regard Eritrea and Eritrean people but this lunatic site come to destroy the opposition groups. I think Assena.com is the missionary of PDGF.

Emanual and Sophie,
This government is behind torture, abductions, murder, and other crimes against humanity.

If you truly wish to protect human dignity, you will speak out against these terrible crimes.

I check back here to see what you have to say about actual offenses against humanity.

What a shame that CPJ doesn't have the ethics to not publish defamatory remarks posted on twitter. Wow, i am shocked

This is all dictator do at there end of time ail may be trust so much for hgdef regime . there is alot untold story about this regime crime we will hear soon at end eritrea people will free from this brutal,murderer, cruel regime.

There will be many others to follow defecting the dying regime. The defecters go on hiding because what they had being doing in Eritrea is shameful. They betrayed the martyers who fought for independence they betrayed the Eritrean people they killed thousands and they destroyed the generation. These defectors have blood in their hands. Dictator Eseyes Aforki is the main leader of these all evil others are willingly acting puppets.

The general atmoshere of opposition will let us see more people like Ali Abdu defect. It is apparently a sign of the begginig of the end. Die-hard followers will always be there; no wonder.

Ali the blood sucker is in Canada and we will bring him to justice. Canada is not a junk of dictators and their puppets. Sofi Strega will also be brought to justice if she touches her evil feet in our land!

Dear All, Merry Christmas (Eastern) and a Happy New Year to you all; including to Ali Abdu wherever he is.

The absence of Rule of Law, Transparency and Eritrea-owned institutions has been creating chaos among Eritreans inside and outside the country. The responsibility of us all is to work for that.

It is very curious to see people who worked their whole live long with / and under Ali Abdu crying "hung him", just because they left the regime few year earlier...Ali Abdu deserves international protection, justice and indeed the opportunity to tell his story. I shiver when I read accusations after accustations without any verifiable facts and I shiver more when people (who have been serving the same regime together with Ali Abdu) rush to shout "hung him".
PFDJ and these people are partners in rushing to "execute" Ali Abdu just because they have a lot to hide; they are afraid of the stories this man carries with him. They want not only to "kill" Ali Abdu but also to silence the witnesses within him.

If a member of the Eritrean regime chooses to abandon the regime, then the opposition should welcome them and not rush to bare them from international protection (futile attempt, because it is the right of every refugee!) and "kill" them before any process of law...What saddens me is that international ngo's seem to beat the same drums as the Eritrean opposition without any factual evidence for their accusations. Justice is not driven by friendships but by verifiable facts. Ali Abdu -if he decides definitely abandon the regime- has the same right for international protection and (after thorough research) refugee status as those "state journalists" and other people who worked for the regime & Ali Abdu due to various circumstances. But what everyone of us should realize is that throwing an avalanche of stones on a fresh defector doesn't make us wholly. Rule of Law is what we need and stories that are based on facts! Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

Dear Readers

Finally Ali Abdu defected. He just simply made it to save his life before it is too late. The most possible reason for his defection, according to reliable sources from Asmara, is that his previous intelligence, training and financial involvement in the so called Al Shabab of Somalia (a group which is affiliated with the Al Qaeda terrorist net work). Recently as many high ranking Government officials have defected and he is so much scared of being exposed. He has carefully observed these scenario that he decided to surrender himself to the Americans.
The fact that the Dictator imprisoned the father of Ali Abdu, his brother, and his daughter proves it that the former Acting Minister had no connection with the Generals. He was very much isolated.

By now Eritreans are used to, or at least learned to ignore misleading, fallacious information about Eritrea. What is new and irritating about this article is that not only is it a fabrication by it is at least a month too late. The rumors about Ali are outdated and not interesting any more.
Can the journalists at least be on time with their lies?

By now Eritreans are used to, or at least learned to ignore misleading, fallacious, defamation information about Eritrea. However this article is not only a fabrication by it is at least a month too late. The rumors about Ali are outdated and not interesting any more.
More over referring to the web sit Assenna known as “Hassenna” (which means we lie ) among Eritreans; same web site which reported a fabrication about Pressiden Afewerkis death just reflects how unserious you are as a journalist.
Mohmed Keita at least try to be on time with the fabrication.

Ali should be liable for all the arrest and abuses of human rights in Eritrea. Let us work hand in hand to bring him to justice. Ali you don't deserve to live freely from now on wards.

Asmara Palm

Dear All, The statement by Asmara Palm is a propaganda ploy by PFDJ-elements to invoke fear into Ali Abdu...that he is only safe in the hands of PFDJ and tthat he better returns back to PFDJ....

The opposition should take a wise strategy:.welcome those who abandon the PFDJ...Other negative actions would be stupid.

Regarding the "outdated news", well what is surprising is the fact that P PFDJ-followers are still kept in the dark almost months after "their" Acting minister of information has disappeared without any trace.

The PFDJ and its leader doesn't bother to inform the Eritrean public; why should he? He better spends two and half an hour tv air time today and more than one hour yesterday, talking nonsense! The "journalists" who sat there as robots could easily be replaced by microphones...they were told which questions they should ask and not to interrupt him even if he forgets to stop every half an hour. New.in this session was the combined interview in Arabic and Tigrigna...even if we are after the families of Ali Abdu and Ali himself, e respect Arabic; look we give interview in both languages...next time we will integrate Tigre, then Bilen, then Nara...
PFDJ doesn't take the Eritrean people seriously ...if so it would have informed the Eritrean people...you know what Isaias said about electricity and other shortages: "you can complain about the absence of electricity at home because your computer can't work...but what do you prefer? To stop the electricity at the cement fabric or at your home?" A leader!

Dear All, Merry Christmas (Eastern) and a Happy New Year to you all; including to Ali Abdu wherever he is.

The absence of Rule of Law, Transparency and Eritrea-owned institutions has been creating chaos among Eritreans inside and outside the country. The responsibility of us all is to work for that.

It is very curious to see people who worked their whole live long with / and under Ali Abdu crying "hung him", just because they left the regime few year earlier...Ali Abdu deserves international protection, justice and indeed the opportunity to tell his story. I shiver when I read accusations after accustations without any verifiable facts and I shiver more when people (who have been serving the same regime together with Ali Abdu) rush to shout "hung him".
PFDJ and these people are partners in rushing to "execute" Ali Abdu just because they have a lot to hide; they are afraid of the stories this man carries with him. They want not only to "kill" Ali Abdu but also to silence the witnesses within him.

If a member of the Eritrean regime chooses to abandon the regime, then the opposition should welcome them and not rush to bare them from international protection (futile attempt, because it is the right of every refugee!) and "kill" them before any process of law...What saddens me is that international ngo's seem to beat the same drums as the Eritrean opposition without any factual evidence for their accusations. Justice is not driven by friendships but by verifiable facts. Ali Abdu -if he decides definitely abandon the regime- has the same right for international protection and (after thorough research) refugee status as those "state journalists" and other people who worked for the regime & Ali Abdu due to various circumstances. But what everyone of us should realize is that throwing an avalanche of stones on a fresh defector doesn't make us wholly. Rule of Law is what we need and stories that are based on facts! If one is victimized by Ali Abdu based on naked facts (and not rumors), then that victim or its family member should inform the concerned agencies. But we should refrain from "street justice" and "radio trottoir". Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year

You all opponents and supporters of the Governement of the state of Eritrea you better wait until the facts and evidences posted from true sources.The spirit of the people of Eritrea and the strength of the Governement of Eritrea will never and ever be enffluenced by your immaterial words.

Mohamed keita,
your article is timely and on the mark. The web site Awate.com owned by the now defected ex-Minister of Information of Eritrea is confirmed as "abandoned" = Defected. so who is the liar here? The web site Assena.com ; Mr. Mohamed Keita or those who deny that Ali Abdu in deed ditched Eritrea's gov't?

http://awate.com/the-immediate-family-of-ali-abdu-eritreas-moi-have-been-arrested/

Truth cannot be beaten down!

reply to Mr. Habtom Yohannes,

Yes we like to see justice served in Ali's case. There is no need to welcome Ali to the opposition or consider him as a valid voice in Eritrea. The same applies to those who served PFDJ specially involved in arrest and abuse of Eritreans. Yes, we should bring Ali to justice and there are ten thousand reasons for this. In case if you don't know about this individual, take some time and try to dig some facts about Ali.

Bizen

some are saying a "shame" to what CPJ has reported on, apparently on the truth, yet they never say a thing on the shameful act of the government this Ali helped set up. what an irony...!!

PFDJ supporters are more concerned on what the world think of them than admiting and face to alleviate the nightmare the people inside eritrea are cursed to live. Under PFDJ, that is. this is a real shame..

Reply to Mr. Bizen (It would be good if the first name was mentioned: now I am left to speculate; is this Haile or Samuel or somebody with a fake name?), Thank you for your response. The issue here is not about "What I know about Mr. Ali Abdu" or about "the things you know or things other's know". Maybe there are things I personally know and even my own experience with Ali Abdu. Still that is not the issue. The issue is about RULE of LAW! Your message is tricky and written in a spirit of vengeance. It is really not about justice. Without any concrete facts (you haven't mentioned any) and without a due process of law, you want to exclude him from joining the opposition (does he want to?), you want to bring him to justice with the intention of "execution" and not fact-finding and independent verdict. Another issue is your assumption as if all within the opposition is innocent. I hope you don't believe that. So at the end of the day, in your case, in my case, in the case of Ali Abdu, PFDJ or the case of the opposition as a whole what Eritrea needs is Rule of Law and justice according to internationally accepted rules. Rule of law might sound bitter for possible victims, but that is the only lasting solution from vengeance and counter-vengeance. Take Care and Happy New Year.

Mr Habtom – Happy New Year. I am Bizen, not Haile or Samuel and even no relationship to those individuals. You stated you may or may not know about Ali, but I tell you I know tones of stuff about this individual. I don’t see the point to state Ali’s sin here even though you already see scores on many of the sites. The rule of law requires that Ali will stand and face and answer to cases against him from me and multitudes of Eritreans. I never made any assumption about individuals, I don’t know what you are trying to say but to tell you frankly there is no hope for Eritrea from the opposition run by people who helped to create this brutal system in Eritrea – one of them is Ali. The due process of law is not to welcome him first – it is to question him and then if the process of law made him innocent – I don’t care if you put him as your leader.

Thank you Mr. Bizen (though I don't know if it is your family name, your second name or?),

Please cool down! It is the first day of the new year: Best Wishes to you and your loved ones. Your outrage doesn't help you win a case before it is even filed:

You wrote:
1. "The due process of law is not to welcome him first – it is to question him and then if the process of law made him innocent" ...
I agree. But I hope you also agree that questioning him doesn't entail "website or internet process". So if you have a case against him, go ahead! I wish you all the best. I am for justice to prevail. Sooner or later and if he is bestowed with a long life, he should answer many questions in due time and before internationally recognized organs.

You wrote
2."... but I tell you I know tones of stuff about this individual..." Since I haven't seen or heard what you know about Ali Abdu, I can't say you know tones of stuff about him. If you have concrete information, then I would like to advice you that you either share it with the public for the sake of justice or involve the concerned authorities in the place of your residence,

You wrote:
3. "I don’t know what you are trying to say but to tell you frankly there is no hope for Eritrea from the opposition run by people who helped to create this brutal system in Eritrea". You are overloading yourself with a lot of assumptions. I am an independent person who seeks justice where ever I am; no more no less. Your assertion that the opposition is led by people who created the system in Eritrea, can be true but it need to be verified...I don't know to whom you are referring to,...

4. At the end of the day, every person is entitled to (international)protection before outrage -however justified it may be- takes its course...

Regards, Habtom

All the best.

,,,,keita,,,,,
you are not qualified to be journalist #1st place, way? cos you are nasty and it's gonna be hard for you to know about ali .you may get some follish people that can sqreew up and down your opinion.i am sorry the adminstration is not around that is way you can use this site .i do respect journalist but you are not one of them.

Reply to: Sophia Tesfamariam
Why are you using your regular tone on CPJ?
You think this is another Eritrean? You going to take them to Era-ero prison camp and torcher them like the Eritrea journalists?

Your time is coming you better get ready.

what is the problem with all of us, we all know that ali was the massenger of isayas, ali had no power and who has the power in eritrea but iseyas. the slaves of the regime are trying to escape for freedom,i thnk we should bring them to our side so we can use their talent and make them help us to understand how their ex master mind work

It is starting point for Eriterian Muslims to
sabrate themselves from this Christian Issias
Afewerki.

let us wait now Issias himself may will escape
from Eriteria.
You Eriterian supporters of Issias particulary
Hamasines should watch him not escape and leave
them with problems.
Keep him on eye. otherwise you will wake up one
morning and he will escape to Somalia or North
Korea and all other non Hamasin Eritereans will
come to your home with swords and knives.

In an interview recently the Chinese Nobel Prize winner in literature MO YAN said that self-censorship is necessary. When we hurt eachother by spreading mendacious gossip about one another, when we hurt and insult the very freedom fighter whom we yesterday hailed as our hero by now calling him all sorts of names from 'wedi Medhin berad' to 'dictator', when we do all this and more under the right to freedom of speech and expression then must we pause and think about the power of words and the fragility of human feelings. Let us stop looking for scapegoats and address the fact that we are a traumatised nation who can't even afford to heal ourselves of our wounds thanks to our GEOPOLITICAL problems and our skin colour. It is time to unite and listen keenly to our leader Eritrea. It is time to address the issues of poverty, chidren and women's rights. It is time to look back into history and be proud of what we have achieved thanks to our heroes, our strength and our leaders. The enemy is watching and he is noting down all our weak points...When he strikes again who will you blame then?

Rahwa Tesfai Ghermai January 11, 2013 5:38:49 PM ET

Mr. Ali where ever he is is no one's business.
It is just another mambo jumbo baseless story as usual.

Hi Sofia T. I recently moved out to Canada for studies and haven't noticed until now how hard you must have it on the northen part of America. I've read such low, and humiliating comments. But how you deal with this is just defining you as the strong woman you really are. Me and my Law practicing fellow Eritreans around me would like to give you props. You are more than welcome to come out here and meet this sweet Eritrean community that respect the work you do, and share the same thoughts as me.

Mikal

Mr. Journalist have u ever cared about ur country ? Ur a day dreamer

one by one they will be disappeared,especially those whe arenot eritreans

New Rumors are saying Ali Abdu is im Australia. If this is right, Assenna will loss its credit as the web-site was confidentially saying that Ali is in Canada.