Wahab Michael Sbhatu is a radio journalist, writer, and human rights activist from Eritrea. He has been active since 2009 and has received awards for his journalist work in the Tigre language.
Following his graduation from university, Sbhatu was recruited by the Eritrean Ministry of Information as part of his national service. There, he worked as a radio presenter, producer, and editor, covering politics, sports, and entertainment for the Tigre language radio Dimtsi Hafash.
In 2012, Wahab Michael Sbhatu produced a radio documentary entitled ‘Libya: Where to Where?’, focusing on Libya and the developments during the Arab Spring. As a result, he experienced a period of intense censorship and persecution.
During the 2010s, Eritrea went through a period of turmoil and the government tightened their control over the media, leading him to flee to Sudan in 2015. There, he continued his journalistic and activist work, writing articles on human rights violations and secretly disseminating them. Wahab has been documenting and reporting human rights abuses committed against Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan, including monitoring migration routes and trends, as well as human smuggling and trafficking. His reports have been crucial for the advocacy work of Africa Monitors in protecting Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers in Sudan.
As a journalist, Sbhatu also reports on issues related to the general situation in Eritrea. Due to this and his previous employment at the Eritrean Ministry of Information, he faced security threats by Eritrean intelligence agents in Sudan, monitoring his work and movements.
In 2018, Wahab, together with fellow journalists, founded Radio Saeyob, a project on which he is still working. In 2022, Sbhatu collaborated with other Eritrean journalists to have Radio Saeyob broadcast on ERISAT satellite TV, where it is still on air.
However, his whereabouts in Sudan were made public and he was, once again, targeted and threated. At the beginning of January 2023, Wahab Michael Sbhatu arrived in Kristiansand, Norway for a two-year ICORN residency.
In exile, Sbhatu continues his engagement in journalism and defending freedom of expression. During the 2023 ICORN Network Meeting in Brussels, he took part in the ‘Conversations with Friends’ on the topic of ‘Identity making and unmaking in exile’, together with Dessale Berekhet and Mengesha Habte.