9 Journalists Jailed at Ethiopia



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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said it is alarmed by
the Ethiopian government’s arrests of nine journalists in what it called
one of the worst crackdowns against free expression in the country.

“With the latest arrests, Ethiopian authorities are turning the
peaceful exercise of free expression into a crime,’’ CPJ East Africa
Representative Tom Rhodes said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We call on Ethiopian authorities to halt their slide into paranoia
and authoritarianism, and instead to allow critical commentary and
public debate to thrive.

“These nine journalists should be released immediately,’’ Rhodes said.

On Sunday, a public prosecutor in the capital, Addis Ababa, accused
the detainees-editor of working with foreign human rights organisations
and using social media to create instability in the country.
The detainees are Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, freelancers Tesfalem Waldyes
and Edom Kassaye, and bloggers Abel Wabella, Atnaf Berhane, Mahlet
Fantahun, Natnail Feleke, Zelalem Kibret, and Befekadu Hailu.

Tesfalem, Asmamaw, and Zelalem will have their next court hearing on May 7, while the rest will appear in court on May 8.
The journalists have not been formally charged with a crime.
The bloggers are members of an independent collective called Zone nine, which publishes news and commentary.


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Formed in May 2012 in response to the evisceration of the independent
press and the narrowing of the space for free expression, the group’s
name is derived from Kality Prison.
They are in the main jail where Ethiopia’s political prisoners, including several journalists, are held.
With the motto “We Blog Because We Care,’’ the group has voiced
concerns over domestic issues, including political repression and social
injustice.

The Zone nine blogs were frequently blocked inside Ethiopia, but gained a following with Ethiopians in the Diaspora.

The arrests follow a April 23 announcement on Facebook by the
bloggers in which they said they would resume publishing after seven
months of inactivity.
They had suspended publishing after being harassed by security agents.
The day before their arrest, security agents allegedly ordered
Natnail to hand over contact details of all Zone nine members, a request
he refused.

“These are not journalists. Their arrest has nothing to do with
journalism, but with serious criminal activities,’’ Getachew Reda, an
adviser to Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, was quoted as saying.


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“We don’t crack down on journalism or freedom of speech. But if
someone tries to use his or her profession to engage in criminal
activities, then there is a distinction there,’’ Getachew said.
The journalists, who were arrested in multiple raids on Friday and
Saturday, have been denied access to their family and lawyers and are
being held at the Maekelawi federal detention centre.


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2 Comments on "9 Journalists Jailed at Ethiopia"

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Ransom
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Na wa ho..

Victor Ndah
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this is serious..

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