Eritrea demanding ransoms from expatriates in Canada

Eritrea's consul general in Toronto has been soliciting monies from expatriates living in Canada to support the country's military, despite Ottawa's warnings to stop, Canadian media said Wednesday.

Public broadcaster CBC quoted an Eritrean, who asked not to be named, as saying: "You have to go to the consulate and they arrange how you have to pay the money. They want two per cent (of my income)."

"My family (in Eritrea) would get in trouble if I don't pay," he added.

The practice had come up eight months ago, prompting Ottawa to warn Consul Semere Ghebremariam O. Micael that he would be kicked out of the country if he kept at it.

Such fundraising is viewed "very seriously" by Ottawa, which is now investigating, Rick Roth, a spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, told AFP.

"We hope that the Eritrean government does not look to test our resolve. These actions, if they are proven to be true, will lead to consequences," he said in an email.

Collecting funds from Eritrean expatriates living in Canada would be a breach of UN sanctions against the African nation, and illegal under Canadian law.

Ottawa warned the consul against the practice in September after it was first revealed. The consul said it would comply.

But several Canadian media said it has again started soliciting "donations" for the "national defense against Ethiopian invasion."