Congressman hopeful administration imposes sanctions on former Ethiopian spy chief

Rep. Mike Coffman Photo: © Greg Nash

by Engidu Woldie
ESAT News (October 23, 2018)

A U.S. congressman who wrote a letter to the Secretary of State and the Secretary of the Treasury calling for the imposition of the Global Magnitsky Act on a former Ethiopian spy chief said he is hopeful the U.S. administration would find it necessary to do so.

Representative Mike Coffman of Colorado’s 6th District, who works closely with Ethiopian rights activists and civic groups told ESAT that he is hopeful his letter would get the attention of the Trump administration in imposing sanctions on Getachew Assefa, the former spy chief who is implicated in the disappearance, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings of dissidents.

In a letter on Monday to the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin, Representative Mike Coffman said the former head of the Ethiopian National Intelligence and Security Service, Getachew Assefa, “has been implicated in numerous serious crimes, including ethnic based violence in different parts of Ethiopia.”

One of rare photos believed be Getachew Assefa

The letter says the application of the Magnitsky Act will allow the President of the United States to impose visa and asset sanctions.

“By specifically targeting Assefa, the United States also demonstrate that no one will be beyond the reach of being held accountable and will face the consequences of their actions,” Coffman said in the letter.

Coffman said he expects the Department of State and the Department of the Treasury to impose travel restrictions and investigate if Mr. Assefa has any assets in the United States and take actions in freezing any finances.

The congressman said now that the government of Abiy Ahmed is taking the country on the right path to democratic reforms, it was crucial that the U.S. government assists Ethiopia in its efforts at political reforms. “One way to do that is to hold individuals like Mr. Assefa who is implicated in serious violations of human rights accountable for their crimes,” Coffman said.

Getachew Assefa has headed the security and intelligence arm of the TPLF controlled government until his removal by the government of Abiy Ahmed in June.

He has been implicated in the disappearance, torture, imprisonment and extrajudicial killings of dissidents.

In August, an Ethiopian court had issued an arrest warrant on the former spy chief. But he has been hiding in Tigray since he was removed from office.

Pro TPLF social media activists say Mr. Assefa has recently been appointed as security advisor to the administrator of the Tigray region. But no official announcement has been made on his current position in Tigray.

Getachew Assefa has never been seen in public and has shunned the media. There are only a couple of photos believed to be the former spy chief available in the public domain