“Our request is very simple: free Dawit Isaac,” says the front-page headline in today’s issue of Svenska Dagbladet, while Dagens Nyheter has the headline “Free Dawit Isaac!” under a graphic of 2,742 batons, one for every day he has been held.
The two dailies, and the tabloids Expressen and Aftonbladet, published a joint editorial calling for Isaac’s release and criticising the ineffectiveness of the Swedish foreign ministry attempts to intercede on his behalf. “The ‘silent diplomacy’ methods used by the Swedish authorities have yielded little results in the years that have elapsed,” the editorial says. “For this reason, it is time for the Swedish government to be more active.”
The founder of the now banned weekly Setit, Isaac and ten other newspaper publishers and editors were arrested in Asmara in September 2001 as part of a series of round-ups ordered by President Issaias Afeworki and his aides after several leading members of the ruling party and armed forces publicly called for democratic reforms. Several different sources have said that Isaac, who suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure, is currently receiving treatment in an air force hospital in Asmara.