Fighting for freedom with microphone and camera

RNW archive

This article is part of the RNW archive. RNW is the former Radio Netherlands Worldwide or Wereldomroep, which was founded as the Dutch international public broadcaster in 1947. In 2011, the Dutch government decided to cut funding and shift RNW from the ministry of Education, Culture and Science to the ministry of Foreign Affairs. More information about RNW Media’s current activities can be found at

Freedom for his homeland. That’s the dream of journalist Fasil Yenealem. From a ramshackle self-built studio in Amsterdam he’s striving to do what he can no longer do from Ethiopia: bring independent news to his country.

The Ethiopian government keeps a tight control on the country’s media, and it’s almost impossible to access reliable information. Fasil’s criticism of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi led to a prison sentence in 2005, and he fled to the Netherlands in 2007.
Once here, he and his colleagues established Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT) to continue this work. His efforts saw him sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia by an Addis Ababa court earlier this year.
Fasil gathers his information from sources within Ethiopia and operates without any sort of government support, surviving mostly on donations from other Ethiopian exiles. He is convinced of the vital importance of freedom of expression and believes this will one day be possible in Ethiopia. Fasil is not sure he’ll live to see it himself, but he's confident others will pick up the struggle where he leaves off.