A journalist traveling with Demeke Mekonnen defects

A journalist traveling with Demeke Mekonnen defects


Pro-government journalist defects while covering UK-Africa summit

(ethiopiaobserver)–A journalist who accompanied Ethiopian delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister, Demeke Mekonnen to the UK’s Africa investment conference held yesterday and today has stayed behind, Ethiopia Observer has learned.

Bilal Worku, a journalist at the Ethiopia Broadcasting Corporation (EBC), was supposed to attend the UK-Africa summit and send dispatches to the state broadcaster. But the first day he arrived there, he walked out of his hotel in the middle of the night, and never came back, Ethiopia Observer heard from members of the delegation. Bilal was to have flown to the Swiss city of Davos on Tuesday with the rest of the delegation for the 50th World Economic Forum. The delegation members have heard that the journalist is staying with friends in London while waiting to apply for refugee protection to enable him to stay in the country. Reached on Facebook, Bilal declined to be interviewed about his defection.

This followed the June 2019 defection of another senior EBC journalist, Getachew Chane, who vanished after having traveled to Canada with President Sahle-Work Zewde.

During his several years at EBC, Bilal has provided coverage from the official viewpoint and he has had educational and travel opportunities as a privilege. He completed his Master’s degree in journalism at the Addis Ababa University in 2017, funded by the government. His graduation paper was entitled « The practice and challenges of media coverage of entrepreneurship issues in Ethiopian Broadcasting Corporation (EBC): Media coverage of entrepreneurship in Ethiopian State Media ».

Bilal has a wife and two daughters in Ethiopia.

Several state media journalists in the past have used conferences and sports tournaments hosted in western countries as an avenue to seek a better life, even though some might have genuine concerns about their safety back home.

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