On the day of the trail of Amanuel Eyasu’s attacker – a reminder of the story so far

Last November, Amanuel Eyasu, editor of Assena TV was attacked, allegedly by Eritrean pro-government thugs – including Yacob Gebremedhin.

Today Yacob Gebremedhin’s trial resumes. 

Last November’s attack came almost a year after a similar attack on the journalist, Martin Plaut.

Here is a summary of both stories.


Supporters of Amanuel Eyasu at first court hearing

Over two hours of CCTV and police body camera footage is today being scrutinized by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) and barristers at ‘silver circle’ international law firm Mishcon de Raya following a magistrates instruction to further investigate the series of attacks by supporters of the Eritrean Government.

The CPS and private barristers are prosecuting Yacob Gebremedhin for assault following attacks on the editor of Assenna TV, Amanuel Eyasu. The decision on the 12th December to set a new court date to further investigate not only Gebremedhin, who pleaded guilty, but also those who aided the attack and filmed it.

Under joint enterprise laws those who assist a crime can also be found guilty if they in any way assisted in committing that crime. The increasing frequency and brazen nature of the attacks has led to growing concern about the group of attackers. Stratford Magistrates Court will hear the case a second time on the 18th February 2020 at 10am.

The video evidence is being used to investigate the nature and identity of the group of attackers. Legal teams are currently analysing the extensive footage to determine who Gebremedhin plotted with to trick journalist Amanuel Gebrekidan into meeting with the attackers by pretending to have information for Assenna TV. 

Those who cheered Gebremedhin on had clear political motivation and filmed the attack in order to create propaganda materials and intimidate those who speak out against the repressive Eritrean regime.

At the magistrates direction, Crown Prosecution Service and private barriers working together will put forward extensive evidence and analysis showing criminal culpability for a persistent group of attackers who have repeatedly attempted to stifle journalistic freedoms and freedom of speech in the UK.

Increasing concern over the behavior of this group of attackers led to the Parliamentary Researcher and Coordinator of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Eritrea attending the hearing to report to MPs on any political dimension that trial may have uncovered.

The growing concern in legal and political circles over the continued brazen attacks has led to increase scrutiny of pro-Eritrean regime groups and may lead to bolder steps being taken by judges and government in the future.

The supporter of Eritrean government assaulted British journalist

The supporter of Eritrean government assaulted a British journalist, Martin Plaut on November 30th, 2018 at the British Library London, UK. The attack…

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The supporter of Eritrean government assaulted a British journalist, Martin Plaut on November 30th, 2018 at the British Library London, UK. The attacker was arrested and charged by the police for his unlawful act.

Source: Human Rights Concern Eritrea

British Journalist Martin Plaut was assaulted by an Eritrean government supporter on Friday, 30th November at the British Library in London, United Kingdom. The Eritrean, Yacob Ghebremedhin, was later arrested and charged by police for his unlawful actions.

Mr. Gebremedhin is married with three children. By his own admission, he was planning to repatriate to Eritrea on Tuesday 4th December, and had planned to assault Mr Plaut before doing so. In a live online chat, he said he attacked Mr. Plaut because he wrote ill about Eritrea and called its President ‘dictator’.

Martin Plaut is Senior Researcher fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies.  He was the Africa Editor of the BBC World Service News until 2013, and has written about Eritrea for many years.

Mr. Gebremedhin planned his assault for weeks. He attempted to get Martin Plaut’s home address, but could not find it, and finally, managed to find his contact number and pretend to know someone who had valuable information on the human rights situation in Eritrea. He requested to meet Mr Plaut, and he planned his assault with two accomplices, Mr. Alula Abraha and Mr. Daniel. While Mr. Gebremedhin was assaulting Mr. Plaut the two accomplices were filming the assault, and later posted the videos on social media.

It is clear that his ethical stand on the activities of the Eritrean regime has angered them, possibly because it his revealed the truth about the Eritrean government’s activities.

In the context of the attacks by foreign agents on the Scripolls in Salisbury earlier this year, it is important to state publicly the total unacceptability on the United Kingdom soil of such unprovoked attacks by an Eritrean government supporter on a journalist and a British citizen.

Moreover, the following tweet by Ambassador Estifanos Afewerk, Eritrea’s Ambassador to Japan, the day after the incident regarding what is essentially an unjustifiable assault within the sovereign territory of another state implies approval on the part of the government of Eritrea.

Pelted with fresh eggs/milk in London. @Martinplaut disguised propaganda as news since PM Meles #Ethiopia declared war on #Eritrea in 2008. – Ambassador Estifanos

The Facebook message below is by Mr. Sirak Bahlbi, an Eritrean diplomat in charge of Public and Community Affairs at the Eritrean Embassy in Sweden. Mr. Bahlbi is calling Mr. Gebremedhin “the Eritrean Hero” for assaulting a British journalist.

Furthermore, first hand video evidence obtained by Human Rights Concern Eritrea (HRCE), and Facebook postings by Eritrean government supporters confirm they are planning to attack and assault on several human rights activists in the diaspora, including HRCE’s UK-based director, Elizabeth Chyrum and Meron Estifanos, who lives in the Sweden. The supporters say that now that sanctions against Eritrea have been lifted, their next mission is to physically assault and silence anyone who criticizes the Eritrean government or write ill about the Eritrean President.

In Facebook and Paltalk chat rooms, the Eritrean government’s supporters have praised the assailant as a hero and are eager to go out and attack government critics and activists.

It is hardly necessary to remind the world that extra-judicial attacks, torture and killings of innocent citizens by the regime occur frequently in Eritrea. It was perhaps because Martin Plaut has so often revealed the truth about such violence and killings by the Eritrean state that he is the subject of such hate and aggression by the regime and its supporters.

The aggression and violence which is the hallmark of the Eritrean government, and which was clearly condoned in a tweet by its diplomats, must not and cannot be tolerated in the UK.

The following messages shared on Facebook live by government supporters are exemplar of what will occur routinely in the UK if action is not taken to appraise Eritrean government supporters in no uncertain terms that their actions s will not be tolerated in a democratic society.

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