Dawit Isaak (1964) is a Swedish-Eritrean journalist who has been held in Eritrea since September 2001. Dawit fled his country during the civil war and built a new life for himself in Sweden. But when Eritrea achieved independence, he returned to his native city, Asmara. He married and fathered three children. He also established Eritrea’s first independent newspaper, Setit.
[media:factfile]In 1998, Eritrea and Ethiopia went to war, and Dawit took his family to Sweden. But in April 2001, Dawit decided to return on his own to Asmara.
He wanted to help build a democratic Eritrea, and he believed that a free and open media culture would help contribute to achieve that goal. Shortly before leaving Sweden, he declared at a farewell lunch, “I am going to make democracy in Eritrea”.
Critical of elections
In his newspaper, Dawit criticised President Afewerki and the way elections were held. He was arrested in September 2001, along with 13 politicians and 10 journalists.
He was released in November 2005 but was picked up again three days later. Since then, no one has been in touch with Dawit, and there are fears that he is being tortured.
Free Dawit campaign
His brother in Sweden, Esayas Isaak, has been working hard to obtain Dawit’s release. His efforts have received broad support in the Swedish media.The Swedish newspaper, Expressen, for example, has supported the Free Dawit campaign. And Esayas’ football club, Örgryte, and its supporters are also supporting Esayas’ efforts to obtain his brother’s freedom.