By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
July 3, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – Authorities in Yemen have reportedly arrested Andargachew Tsige, the secretary-general of Ginbot 7, an Ethiopian opposition movement based in the United States.
According to the group, the official was arrested by Yemeni security forces last week at the El Rahaba International Airport in the capital, Sana’ a, while he was in transit to London.
The reasons for his arrest remain unclear, however, the exiled opposition group argued that Sana’a had no legal grounds to arrest Tsige, calling for his immediate and unconditional release.
Government sources in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, said on Thursday that Yemeni authorities are expected to issue an extradition warrant.
Tsige, who is the group’s second-in-command, was sentenced to death in absentia by an Ethiopian court, along with chairman Berhanu Nega, over his alleged role to topple the central government in 2009.
Ginbot 7 has demanded that Yemen refrains from handing over Tsige to the Ethiopian government, warning it would seek retribution if the Horn of Africa nation elects to do so.
“We will retaliate in any way and at any place for any harm done to the body, spirit and life of Andargachew Tsegie,” the group said in a statement.
Tsige reportedly survived an assassination attempt in Asmara in 2013, with the group accusing the Ethiopian government of masterminding the plot.
Under a security pact signed in 1999 between Ethiopia’s late prime minister Meles Zenawi and former Yemeni president Ali Abdela Salah, Addis Ababa and Sana’a to extradite convicts found to be hiding on each other’s soil.
Ginbot-7 was founded by Nega in 2008 by Nega with the aim of achieving regime change.
The Ethiopian government designated the group as a terrorist entity in June 2011, along with the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) and Somalia’s Al Shabaab