BEIRUT (Jan. 30, 2013) — Eritrean dictator Isaias Afewerki’s Information Minister Ali Abdu Ahmed has fled the country and is living today in a secret location.
He confirm his defection himself today in an exclusive interview with Expressen’s reporter Kassem Hamade.
Ali Abdu says he is surprised that the Swedish authorities did not seek him for information about what happened to the imprisoned journalist Dawit Isaak. But he dare not give any hope to Isaak’s family in Sweden.
Eritrea’s information minister, Ali Abdu, 47, disappeared without a trace during a business trip to Germany in November.
Since then, not a sign of life heard from the Minister, who has been one of dictator Isaias Afewerki’s closest men for many years.
He dares not speak on the phone with journalists, so he responds to Expressen questions via his brother Saleh Younis, who lives in the U.S..
Ali Abdu says that he very well knows who Dawit Isaak is.
“No one from the Swedish government or authorities have been trying to contact me about Dawit Isaak, Ali Abdu told Expressen.”
For Dawit Isaak’s family in Sweden and among the thousands who are working for his release, Ali Abdu defection brought hope that they will finally get an answer if Dawit Isaak still alive.
But Ali Abdu says he and the other ministers do not know anything about what happened Dawit and other imprisoned journalists and politicians.
“Neither I nor any other minister dared to ask what happened to Dawit Isaak. It is taboo to ask about things that are not related to one’s job. There is an old guerrilla culture in the country. You carry out orders without asking why,” he says.
Ali Abdu says it is routine for suspected dissidents to be arrested without court papers, without any documentation.
“It is done by oral orders. Sometimes, it is over the phone and in coded language. They are afraid of being intercepted by Western intelligence services, he says.
Ali Abdu says he is sorry about what happened to Dawit Isaak and other journalists.
“But it is only the president himself and his closest security that has information about Isaak. Not even the police chief knows anything about it,” he says.
Ali Abdu lives under great pressure. Immediately after his defection in November, his father, his 15 year old daughter and his brother were arrested by the Security Service. He says he does not know where they are kept today.
He does not want to answer questions about what prompted him to defect or how he lives today.
“My brother is in shock right now. He is sad and feeling disappointed at how an entire generation in Eritrea has been lost,” says the former minister’s brother Saleh Younis.
Source: The expressen, Swedish Newspaper