In September 2001, the Eritrean government ordered that all of the country’s privately owned publications be closed down. In the days that followed, police arrested above fifteen or so journalists and took them to Asmara’s police station No. 1. They stand primarily accused of having published interviews with political leaders who had been publicly calling for "democratic reforms" in the country. The latter have also been arrested by the police. According to the information obtained by Reporters Without Borders, four of them died in prison between 2005 and 2007.
Today, ten journalists behind bars in Eritrea are: Yusuf Mohamed Ali (presumed dead), Tsigenay’s editor-in-chief; Mattewos Habteab, Meqaleh’s editor-in-chief; Dawit Habtemichael, also with Meqaleh; Medhanie Haile (presumed dead) and Temesgen Gebreyesus, associate editor and board member, respectively, of Keste Debena; Emanuel Asrat, Zemen’s editor-in-chief; Dawit Isaac and Fessehaye Yohannes (presumed dead), both with Setit; Said Abdulkader (presumed dead) of Admas magazine; and Seyoum Tsehaye, a freelance photographer.
These ten journalists are sponsored by Le Soir (Belgium).
Dawit Isaak is sponsored by the press club of Mons (Belgium)