16 July, 2012

Ethiopia jails six journalists

Ethiopia jails six journalists

An Ethiopian court has sentenced six journalists to jail on terrorism charges. Award-winning blogger Eskinder Nega got an 18-year term. The other five, who live in exile, were sentenced in absentia.

They were among 24 people convicted of involvement in a vague terror plot in a case that has been seen by press freedom and human rights groups as unjust.

The judge accused veteran journalist Eskinder of participating in a terrorist organisation, Ginbot 7, a US-based organisation that was formally designated as a terrorist entity by the Ethiopian government last year.

Eskinder was further accused by the judge of inciting anti-government protests in online articles discussing the Arab Spring.

Similar rulings were made against the exiled journalists. Mesfin Negash and Abiye Teklemariam gor eight-year terms for making information about Ginbot 7 available to Ethiopians through their news website.

Abebe Gellaw, of the US-based Addis Voice, and Abebe Belew, who works in the United States for an internet radio station, were each sentenced to 15 years. And Fasil Yenealem got a life sentence for his work with the exiled broadcaster, Ethiopian Satellite Television (ESAT), which government prosecutors described as "the voice" of Ginbot 7.

In 2009, Fasil was sentenced in absentia to life in prison on anti-state charges based on his affiliation with Ginbot 7. All the journalists professed their innocence.

Sources: NewsDire/CPJ http://samotalis.blogspot.com/

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