30 London MPs tell Boris to get Andy Tsege home

Yemi Hailemariam, centre, with London MPs, from left to right, David Lammy, Siobhain McDonagh, Karen Buck, Helen Hayes, Andy Slaughter, Stephen Timms, Andrew Rosindell, Tulip Siddiq, Tom Brake, and Stephen Pound.

Boris Johnson has been urged by 30 London MPs to help Andy Tsege, a Londoner and Arsenal fan who has been on Ethiopia’s death row for more than three years.

Andy is a British citizen who was granted political asylum in 1979. He has been held since June 2014 after being sentenced to death in absentia five years earlier.

When he was Mayor of London, Boris Johnson wrote to Mr Tsege’s partner, Yemi Hailemariam, to say he regretted that “with no foreign policy remit” he could not directly intervene – but the MPs say that he must now do more to help.

A letter to Mr Johnson, signed by 30 MPs including Sir Vince Cable, Diane Abbott, and Harriet Harman, said: “In your role as Foreign Secretary, you are now in a position to help achieve the goal you yourself endorsed as Mayor: bringing Andy back home to his family.”

Yemi Hailemariam with Sir Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Leader.

Andy was abducted from Yemen’s Sana’a International Airport on his way to visit Eritrea in June 2014 before being illegally rendered to Ethiopia and thrown in prison where he was tortured and paraded on state TV.

Andy’s partner Yemi Hailemariam told the Evening Standard: “When Boris Johnson was initially appointed foreign secretary I was excited. The first thing I did was pull out that letter and write to him, ‘Do you remember…’ ”

But the hope was met by disappointment. The Foreign Secretary has said the case falls within Ethiopia’s legal system, and he has focused on securing consular visits and Ethiopian government-approved legal representation. He has so far failed to negotiate Andy’s return home.

Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry, with Andy’s partner Yemi Hailemariam.

Yemi added, “it’s been an emotional yo-yo. Not so hopeful, then hopeful – and now I feel like the kids are resigned,”.

Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve, said: “Andy’s partner and three children have been let down by a Foreign Secretary who has failed to negotiate his return home to London.

“This cross-party support from London’s MPs shows there is the political will in Parliament to get this British citizen back. As Mayor, Boris Johnson said he hoped that Andy would be returned home to his family soon.

“As Foreign Secretary, he needs to make it happen.”

The MPs who signed the letter are:

Emily Thornberry, Tom Brake, Catherine West, Tulip Siddiq, David Lammy, Siobhain McDonagh, Helen Hayes, Vince Cable, Diane Abbott, Gareth Thomas, Bob Blackman, Andy Slaughter, Edward Davey, Matthew Pennycook, Karen Buck, Ruth Cadbury, Marsha De Cordova, Dawn Butler, Stephen Timms, Lyn Brown, Clive Efford, Wes Streeting, Harriet Harman, Stephen Pound, Steve Reed, Andrew Rosindell, Emma Dent Coad, Jon Cruddas, Mike Gapes, Ellie Reeves, Rosena Allin-Khan, Joan Ryan, Jim Fitzpatrick, Seema Malhotra

You can read the Evening Standard Article on this story here.