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Thirty-one IFEX members call on authorities to disclose whereabouts of journalist Dawit Isaak

(WAN-IFRA/IFEX) - The following is a letter to Eritrean President Isaias Afewerki calling on the Eritrean authorities to confirm that Isaak is still alive and if so, to release him from prison:

His Excellency Issayas Afewerki
President of the State of Eritrea
Office of the President
P.O. Box 257, Asmara
c/o: Eritrean Embassy in the United States, Washington, D.C.
Fax: +1 202 319 1304
E-mail: embassyeritrea (@)

14 November 2011

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned 31 members of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX), are writing to you to call for the immediate release of journalist, writer and playwright Dawit Isaak, and all other journalists held in captivity in Eritrea.

Mr. Isaak, one of the founders of Eritrea's first independent newspaper, "Setit", was awarded the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) 2011 Golden Pen of Freedom.

During October 2011, rumours of Mr. Isaak's death circulated among the world's press and social media. This includes an article published in the Swedish online newspaper "The Local" that appeared on 27 October, citing "credible sources from Eritrea's opposition movement as indicating that Mr. Isaak is no longer in the Eira Eiro prison because he has died".

We would be grateful if you could confirm whether Mr. Isaak continues to be held in Eira Eiro prison or whether in fact he has died in custody.

We respectfully remind you that Mr. Isaak is a journalist with dual Swedish-Eritrean citizenship who has been detained without charge or trial since his arrest in 2001. His whereabouts continue to be veiled in secrecy. This is an extremely distressing time for Mr. Isaak's family, friends and colleagues and we urge you to confirm if he is alive.

If this is indeed the case, we respectfully call on you to:
• ensure that the authorities provide information on Mr. Isaak's whereabouts and his health condition;
• allow the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit him;
• immediately release him, and all journalists imprisoned for their writing, from custody.

We are looking forward to your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,

World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Association of Caribbean Media Workers
Association of Independent Electronic Media
Bahrain Center for Human Rights
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
Cartoonists Rights Network International
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility
Committee to Protect Journalists
Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Ethiopian Freepress Journalists' Association
Freedom House
Human Rights Network for Journalists - Uganda
Index on Censorship
Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information
Instituto Prensa y Sociedad de Venezuela
International Federation of Journalists
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance
Media Foundation for West Africa
Media Institute of Southern Africa
Media Rights Agenda
National Union of Somali Journalists
Observatoire pour la liberté de presse, d'édition et de création
Pacific Islands News Association
Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms - MADA
PEN Canada
PEN International
Public Association "Journalists"
Reporters Without Borders

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