Mussie Eyob became a Christian in 2008. In 2011, while living in Saudi Arabia, he visited a local mosque in Jeddah to meet and talk with attendees about Christianity. On Feb. 12, he was arrested for preaching to Muslims and imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
Proselytizing is a capital offence in Saudi Arabia, but following appeals from human rights groups and individuals, Saudi authorities decided to deport him instead of carrying out the death sentence. He was deported back to Eritrea in November 2011. A VOM partner suggested that Mussie choose to be deported to Ethiopia, but Mussie opted to be returned to Eritrea.
He arrived in Asmara at the beginning of November 2011 and about three weeks later, VOM partners reported that he had simply disappeared into the vast prison system, where many Eritrean pastors and evangelists have been detained incommunicado.
For a long time, because Mussie had been living abroad and was not well known to local Christians, no one knew exactly where he was being held. Eventually, VOM partners learned that Mussie was being held at the Me’etr prison in north west Eritrea.
Me’etr prison camp was opened in 2007 specifically to house Christians who were arrested for their faith. In 2009, at least two detained Eritrean Christians, Mogos Hagos Kiflom, 37, and Mehari Gebreneguse Asgedom, 42, died in Me’etr. Presently Me’etr is not as brutal as some of the other prisons, but it is situated in a dry, barren, inhospitable area with harsh weather conditions for most of the year.
The prison itself is like a labor camp where prisoners are required to work the land, something that is extremely difficult for prisoners who are old or infirm. Most prisoners in Me’etr have been there for more than six years; some for ten.
At last report, Mussie appears to be in reasonably good health and he tries to work on behalf of the sick and the weak. Before he was arrested, Mussie supported his mother and sister.