Supporting Yidnek ref Skype is Illegal in Ethiopia

This is not an initiative or project in the usual sense, but it is inlcuded here because it is the story of someone in our network. It also raises issues about Internet use and related freedoms that are easy to take for granted.


Yidnek Redda and Pamela McLean

The backstory

The Ethiopian government has a monopoly on telecommunications. It interprets the use of Skype as an infringement of its monopoly, punishable by imprisonment.

Yidnek is an Ethiopian who was imprisoned for twenty days while the authorities investigated his use of Skype as a trainer and in a cyber cafe. When he came to the UK to attend ICTD 2010 it was under the shadow of a forthcoming trial regarding these invetigations.

Yidnek sought political asylum because he feared imprisonment if he went back to Ethiopia. This related to his use of Skype. He also had a history of political activism.

The catalyst

Pamela got involved with helping Yidnek when they met at ICT2010


  • December 2010 - ICTD2010 conference in London
  • December 2010 and early 2011 - communication between Pamela and Yidnek. Pamela helps with some introductions. Yidnek starts studying at Manchester University.
  • December 2011 and January 2012 - Yidnek in detention awaiting deportation. Fellow students set up a petition. More evidence gathered. Pamela able to support his claim, thanks to the details he had shared before applying, and email evidence of introductions made on his behalf.
  • February 6th 2012 - Yidnek released on bail.
  • June 20th 2012 - news from Yidnek that "UKBA has refused my application with the new evidences, but they considered it as a fresh claim and granted appeal right to appeal to the First Tribunal. My solicitors asked me to find out whether it is possible for you to give evidences, as you did on the e-mail, on the hearing which most probably be about at the end of July in Manchester. " I agreed to act as a witness.
  • July 14th 2012 - news from Yidnek that his hearing is set for July 31st
  • July 27th - news from Yidnek, He has a new solicitor who says my written evidence is sufficient so he will not need to call me as a witness. Hearing postponed until August 23rd because of new wtiness expected from Ethiopia.
  • July 29th - Yidnek sent two articles to me that he has written - see related links below.

The ongoing story

The ongoing story will be shared here.


Yidnek mentions the following in a letter thanks written when he was released on Bail:

Without your endless effort and support, this wouldn't have been possible. My special thanks goes to my incredible "beyond tutor", Prof. Richard Heeks. Although it is difficult to list all who had helped, I also would like to give a bloody thanks to: UMSU and NUS,  my course mates and other friends,  The International Society, Student Service/International Advice Team, Refugee Action Manchester, Publicity and Press offices, Rogerson Galvin Solicitors, Pam McLean of Dadamac,  the Ethiopian Orthodox Church community, National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns, my frequent in detention visitors Liz and Pauline, GHT, Morton Hall IRC staffs and Health Care Centre, Methodist International House, all who campaigned from  the UK and abroad, and all other Manchester University community members.