ESAT Stands By Its Claim: Meles Zenawi Is Dead

ESAT Stands By Its Claim: Meles Zenawi Is Dead

August 1, 2012 — Amid growing scrutiny, ESAT's award-winning and accredited journalist Abebe Gellaw defends his network's decision to air the news of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's death.

The Netherlands-based media, often regarded as Ethiopia's most credible news agency, reported Meles has died in a radio broadcast late last night that has shocked many Ethiopians and rattled the social media networks.

But one of its named source for the report, the International Crisis Group (ICG), denied it provided  ESAT with information regarding the premier's health.

"International Crisis Group has no direct knowledge about the state of health of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Crisis Group has never commented on Mr Zenawi’s health or his fate, and is not in a position to speculate about it." said the Brussels-based think thank.

In response, correspondent Abebe Gellaw said, "For the record, ESAT never quoted ICG. It quoted anonymous but credible sources working at ICG in Brussels. We are aware of ICG’s Twit."

He went on to add, "ESAT never relied on a speculation or comment from ICG. We only had privilege to access confidential information held by ICG that conclusively claimed Zenawi was dead."

ESAT says their decision to report Meles' death was not easy. They said it was two weeks ago that they received news from highly credible sources in Brussels that indicated the 57-year-old former guerrilla fighter had passed away. During this period, it claims it has been investigating and verifying the tip meticulously before it decided to broadcast the news.

It is to be recalled, ESAT was the first news agency to report Meles was receiving treatment in Brussels in late June. This claim was later corroborated by European diplomats whom informed the Telegraph news agency that Meles was in 'critical' condition in a Brussels hospital and may not survive his unspecified aliment.