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The named Thomas C. Mountain, US citizen who presents himself as the most-read independent journalist in East Africa, is an intriguing character. Proof of his incredible fame, his latest article published two weeks ago on a self-funded website has indeed been tweeted 11 times[i ]. Another interesting point about Mr. Mountain is that he currently lives in Eritrea. A legitimate question then appears: how a journalist like Mr. Mountain can actually work in an independent and serious way within a country singled out by the entire international community for its serious breaches of human rights and freedom of the press.
According to the last report on Eritrea from the International Crisis Group, no foreign journalists are based in Eritrea, and there has been no independent press since 2001, when a government crackdown on dissent led to imprisonment of eleven journalists and closure of all private media outlets. The only independent reporter (self-proclaimed) the government allows is U.S. citizen Thomas C. Mountain, who says he is the "most widely distributed independent journalist in Africa, living and reporting from Eritrea since 2006". [ii]
The United Nations commission of inquiry released [ iii ], on June 8, 2015, its report on the situation of human rights in Eritrea. The report describes systematic violations of human rights and serious violations amounting to crimes against humanity. Among those systematically targeted by the regime: the journalists, who are the victims of arbitrary arrests and detentions or just disappeared mysteriously. Could Thomas C. Mountain be then considered a brave and independent journalist living in one of the toughest political regimes in the world in order to denounce, at the peril of his own life, the crimes and violations of freedom that are perpetuated there?
Not really. The only independent character we can find associated with Mr. Mountain are the nature of the low popular crowd-funded websites on which he published his articles. In most of his articles, he tries to convince his handful of readers that Eritrea is the victim of a vast propaganda campaign led by the USA [ iv ]. Moreover, Ethiopia and Djibouti who stand as exceptions in terms of good governance in the region and traditionally critical of their neighbor Eritrea are also the nemesis of Mr. Mountain. We then see more clearly the true vocation of Mr. Mountain, a vulgar lobbyist paid by one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
In the past, Mountain also tried to discredit some Eritrean journalists who were critical of the regime as well as organizations that promote freedom of the press. In fact, this journalist of impeccable ethics works directly for the PFDJ, the ruling party in Eritrea[v ]"
The conscientious reader could thus see the truth. Mr. Mountain left his journalistic career a long time ago to become over the years the officious spokesperson of one of the worst governments in Africa. His articles should therefore be regarded as some vulgar and inconsistent releases from a corrupted and murderous government.