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Eritrea summons German ambassador over DW coverage

October 23, 2019

The German Foreign Ministry has defended the importance of press freedom after Berlin's ambassador to Eritrea was summoned over DW's media coverage of the country. Eritrea says it is being misrepresented.

Eritrean government headquarters
Image: Sailko/Wikipedia

The Eritrean foreign ministry summoned Germany's ambassador to its offices earlier this week over DW's reporting on the country. 

Eritrean Information Minister Yemane Meskel on Monday claimed that DW — Germany's state-owned international broadcaster — was engaged in an "unbridled smear campaign" against Eritrea.

Read more: German prosecutors open murder investigation into Eritrean in Frankfurt

In its response, the German Foreign Ministry described the broadcaster as "an independent media outlet that works to high journalistic standards."

"Press freedom is a valuable asset and prerequisite for a functioning democracy," the ministry, which gave no further details about the ambassador's meeting, said in a statement on Wednesday.

DW has not issued a formal response on the matter. 

Meskel had criticized the way the country's peace process with neighboring Ethiopia was portrayed. He also criticized the reporting of the country's system of national service, which conscripts most citizens into the military and workforce indefinitely.

Meskel said the German ambassador had been summoned to seek clarification. 

Read more: Eritrea in the UN Human Rights Council: Fox guarding the henhouse

The small country in the Horn of Africa has been ruled by President Isaias Afwerki since 1993, when it became independent from Ethiopia.

A United Nations inquiry commission in 2016 accused the country's government of crimes against humanity, including slavery, torture, rape and murder.

rc/stb (dpa)

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