American stuck in Ethiopia after overstaying visa asks for help on Twitter

Kwao Saa

An American citizen is stranded in Ethiopia after overstaying his visa the East African country. The man, who reached out to high ranking Ethiopian officials on social media, said he had been stranded in the country for years now.

He claims Ethiopian immigration officials seized his passport and fined him about $9,000. The man, who has withheld his name, said he has been unable to pay the fine.

“I am an American in Ethiopia who has had his passport confiscated by the immigration office in Addis Ababa,” his Tweet to Fitsum Arega reads. “They r asking for over $9k for an overstay penalty that I can’t pay. They have incarcerated me for 4 weeks in jail without due process, freed 2 weeks ago no visa n won’t give court.”

He also called on Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to help him saying he was disappointed that the government’s amnesty to prisoners only benefitted Ethiopians.

“Dr. Abiy Ahmed, please extend this peace advocacy to foreign citizens stripped of their passport and kept in jail in Ethiopia without any due process and threatened by the immigration office at Addis Ababa,” he tweeted PM Abiy.

The man said he was forced to use social media to appeal for help because the US embassy in Ethiopian was unable to offer any assistance. According to him, officials at the immigration office in Ethiopia told him that even if he gets his case to court, he would still have to pay the overstay penalty before he can leave the country.

The American man claimed he moved to Ethiopia’s eastern city of Harar where he lived with a friend, who is also an American citizen. According to The Reporter, his friend moved back to the US shortly after his arrival.

The US Embassy in Ethiopia is yet to comment on the situation.