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Wikileaks Reprisal: Senay Kifleyesus Arrested (Corrected)

Mr. Senay Kifleyesus, an Eritrean businessman married to an Eritrean government official, has been arrested.

A pharmacist by profession, Senay was in charge of EPLF’s pharmacy department in Sahel and for about 2 or 3 years after independence. Since the mid-1990s, he has been a private businessman, managing the family’s limestone production company.

Since the Eritrean regime never charges those it detains (unless they are foreign) of any crimes and does not disclose why it is detaining people to family members, his family does not why he is arrested.

Senay is married to Ms. Askalu Menkerios, who is the ruling regime’s Minister of Tourism, and one of its strongest apologists.

It is likely that his arrest is related to the un-redacted wikileaks that were released in early September.  In the cable, the businessman, who complains bitterly of how Isaias Afwerki is ruining the country (the cable is entitled: Eritrean Military Drained Of Patience”) is identified as the “estranged husband of a cabinet minister.”  In yet another cable (entitled: Views Of An Eritrean Opposition Leader),  he is identified as a “wealthy businessmen” and “ex-fighter and the husband of a cabinet minister.”

Meanwhile, Askalu Menkerios herself, along with “Justice Minister” Fawzia Hashim, makes an appearance in another wikileaks cable, dated  but they are in no danger of being arrested given their reaction to the American ambassador’s information that Isaias Afwerki was not accepting calls from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:

“When the Secretary (then FLOTUS) visited Eritrea in 1997, she lunched at the CMR with the current Eritrean ministers of justice and tourism. At a dinner July 1, the ambassador got Justice Minister Fawzia Hashim and Tourism Minister Askalu Menkerios to share warm reminisces about the visit. Askalu recalled planting a tree in the grounds of a rural clinic, and Fawzia said the luncheon with Eritrean women leaders was very special. When the ambassador mentioned that we have been trying for ten days to get a call through from the Secretary to President Isaias, both ministers stopped smiling and looked down at their plates. ‘Well, he has been traveling a lot lately,’ one of the ministers lamely offered. They appeared to be surprised and uncomfortable with the news of their president’s obstreperousness.

Wikileaks Mess

The US cables included instructions to protect or “strictly protect” sources speaking in confidence.  When wikileaks first disclosed the cables in November of last year, it partnered with the media and human rights organizations who combed the data to ensure that the cables remained redacted.  In September of this year, the British newspaper The Guardian and wikileaks began been blaming each other for losing the primary password, and tens of thousands of the cables have been released, disclosing the names of the sources.

The arrest of Senay Kifleyesus is the only one we have been able to confirm, but there are likely to be many others including officials in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, members of the Eritrean Defense Forces and tortured-then-released members of Eritrea’s banned churches.

Note: An earlier version of Gedab News incorrectly identified the title as well as the name of the businessman married to Askalu Menkerios.  Apologies to our readers.

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