A U.K. court had earlier charged the Ethiopian pro-democracy activist with terrorism offences including for attending a certain “terrorist” training camp in Eritrea
A member of an Ethiopian opposition movement banned by the Ethiopian regime has been acquitted of all charges of terrorism following a three week trial at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Tadesse Kersmo is a member of Ginbot 7 (now Patriotic Ginbot 7), set up after the 2005 elections when all those who won seats for the opposition were not allowed to take up their seats.
Faced with persecution and false allegations he and his wife fled Ethiopia and sought asylum in the UK.
The persecution did not end and Dr Kersmo had malicious spyware infected onto his computer while he sought sanctuary in the UK.
Despite informing the British police of his work in 2013, Dr Kersmo was arrested in January 2017 for possession of documents.
The British jury took only 2 hours to acquit Dr Kersmo, clearly accepting his account that he had documents for research to assist with his campaign of civic disobedience.
Kate Goold, Partner of Bindmans LLP representing Dr Kersmo said, “the Ethiopian regime is a totalitarian anti-democratic state which has a horrific record of human rights abuses, suppression of the opposition and free speech violations. It is disappointing that the British state have turned a blind eye to this oppression and prosecuted Dr Kersmo.”
Keshina Bouri, Trainee Solicitor of Bindmans LLP, also representing Dr Kersmo stated, “this has been a long and difficult period for Dr Kersmo. He is a man who campaigns peacefully for the establishment of democracy in Ethiopia, the country from which he is currently exiled. A country ruled by tyranny. We are pleased to see a swift unanimous verdict acquitting Tadesse Kersmo of terrorist offences. He is delighted that a British jury has heard him and understood who he is and what he represents.”
Dr Tadesse Kersmo said, “I have always had confidence in the British judicial system and see an independent judiciary as one of the essential pillars of democracy. Something which is sadly lacking in my home country. I want to thank my legal team for their incredible hard work and commitment to my case.”
Dr Kersmo was represented by Kate Goold and Keshina Bouri of Bindmans LLP, and Hossein Zahir and Russell Fraser of Garden Court Chambers.
Who is Tadesse Biru Kersmo?
Kersmo is an academic who holds an interdisciplinary Doctoral degree in social sciences and Master’s in Economics. In Ethiopia, Kersmo was department chair of economics at Unity University. He also taught at Addis Ababa University. In the U.K., he taught at the International Leadership Institute, affiliated with the University of Greenwich in London.
For a number of years, Kersmo served on the executive committee of the Ethiopian Economic Association and was a member of a taskforce for higher education reform at the Ministry of Education of Ethiopia.
Kersmo has a weekly public affairs television program “Yetimihirt Bilichita” [Spark of Education] broadcast on Ethiopian Satellite Television and available on the internet. Kersmo has conducted numerous programs on civil disobedience and nonviolent resistance.
In 2005, Kersmo and his wife “campaigned for the country’s pro-democracy party, the Coalition for Unity and Democracy [Kinijit], which achieved a sweeping victory in the capital of Addis Ababa.” Kersmo’s “ties to the opposition subjected him to continued threats, harassment, and intense monitoring long after the election” and fled to the U.K. in 2009 where he received political asylum.
The TPLF is “a regime that shoots street protesters, locks up dissidents and jails more journalists than almost any other country in the world.” The ruling TPLF regime in Ethiopia has been persecuting Kersmo even after he left the country.
In March 2014, The New Yorker magazine wrote, “Before Edward Snowden sparked a global debate about government surveillance, it was a fact of life for Tadesse Kersmo.”
Kersmo was the first identified victim of the TPLF regime’s global hacking campaign against its opponents and dissidents. Examination of Kersmo’s computer by experts revealed “traces of FinSpy, part of an “intrusion” software suite known as FinFisher.”
Kersmo filed a complaint with British police requesting “a probe of Gamma Group, a Britain-based company that produces the FinFisher software.”
-( Source: “British (In)Justice: The Persecution by Proxy Prosecution of Ethiopian Dissident Tadesse B. Kersmo”, written by Prof. Alemayehu G. Mariam.)