Tigrai Online, May 26, 2012
A Voice of America correspondent in Ethiopia has been released from custody and charges dropped after being detained in Addis Ababa, while trying to cover a demonstration Friday.
Peter Heinlein told VOA editors by telephone Saturday he is in good condition and has returned to his residence in the capital.
Witnesses to the arrest told VOA Friday that Heinlein and his translator Simegineh Yekoye were detained while trying to interview protesters during a Muslim demonstration following Friday prayers. She has also been released and any charges against her have been dropped.
Another Western reporter said there was a heavy police presence at the demonstration and that he also was stopped by police and told to leave the area.
Tom Rhodes, East Africa spokesman for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said he understood that Heinlein was accused of acting “unprofessionally and illegally.” Rhodes said a government spokesman accused Heinlein, who is married to a Danish diplomat, of improperly using a diplomatic vehicle and refusing to show media accreditation.
Rhodes added that the accusations seemed at odds with Heinlein's reputation as a highly professional journalist who has worked for VOA since 1988.
Peter Heinlein should have known better than to sneak around pretending to be a diplomat and readily show his journalistic credentials when requested by the Ethiopian security forces. We can safely conclude why he refused to show his id claiming diplomatic immunity, because he knew he was doing wrong and he would be in trouble. Why do the western journalists think they are above the law of the land?