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Breaking News, Ethiopian, World

CPJ said Of the 259 journalists jailed worldwide 16 are in Ethiopia

Published Posted on by | By TZTA News
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CPJ said Of the 259 journalists jailed worldwide 16 are in Ethiopia

cpjEthiopia: 16
Saleh Idris Gama, Eri-TV
Medium:
Television
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
December 2006

Saleh, a cameraman, for Eritrea’s state broadcaster Eri-TV, was arrested along with Tesfalidet, a producer, in late 2006 on the Kenya-Somalia border during Ethiopia’s invasion of southern Somalia.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry first disclosed the detention of the journalists in April 2007 and presented them on state television as part of a group of 41 captured terrorism suspects. Though Eritrea often conscripted journalists into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity. The ministry pledged to subject some of the suspects to military trials but did not identify them by name. In a September 2011 press conference with exiled Eritrean journalists in Addis Ababa, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saleh and Tesfalidet would be freed if investigations determined they were not involved in espionage, according to news reports and journalists who participated in the press conference.

By late 2016, Tesfalidet and Saleh’s case had not been tried and Ethiopian authorities had not disclosed details about the legal proceedings against them, according to local journalists with whom CPJ spoke. CPJ contacted Ethiopia’s Information Ministry in late October for comment about the legal status and health of the journalists. The ministry did not respond.
Tesfalidet Kidane Tesfazghi, Eri-TV
Medium:
Television
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
December 2006

Tesfalidet, a producer for Eritrea’s state broadcaster Eri-TV, was arrested along with Saleh, a cameraman, in late 2006 on the Kenya-Somalia border during Ethiopia’s invasion of southern Somalia.

The Ethiopian Foreign Ministry first disclosed the detention of the journalists in April 2007 and presented them on state television as part of a group of 41 captured terrorism suspects. Though Eritrea often conscripted journalists into military service, the video did not present any evidence linking the journalists to military activity. The ministry pledged to subject some of the suspects to military trials but did not identify them by name. In a September 2011 press conference with exiled Eritrean journalists in Addis Ababa, the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Saleh and Tesfalidet would be freed if investigations determined they were not involved in espionage, according to news reports and journalists who participated in the press conference.

By late 2016, Tesfalidet and Saleh’s case had not been tried and Ethiopian authorities had not disclosed details about the legal proceedings against them, according to local journalists with whom CPJ spoke. CPJ contacted Ethiopia’s Information Ministry in late October for comment about the legal status and health of the journalists. The ministry did not respond.

wubeshetWoubshet Taye, Awramba Times
Medium:
Print
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
June 19, 2011

Police arrested Woubshet, deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, after raiding his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, and confiscating documents, cameras, CDs, and selected copies of the newspaper, according to local journalists. The outlet’s top editor, CPJ International Press Freedom Awardee Dawit Kebede, fled the country in November 2011 in fear of being arrested; the newspaper is published online from exile.

Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Woubshet was among several people accused of planning terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia’s neighbor, Eritrea, according to news reports. In January 2012, a court in Addis Ababa sentenced Woubshet to 14 years in prison, news reports said.

CPJ believes Woubshet’s conviction was in reprisal for Awramba Times’ critical coverage of the government. Prior to his arrest, Woubshet had written a column criticizing what he saw as the ruling party’s tactics of weakening and dividing the media and the opposition, Dawit told CPJ. Woubshet had been targeted in the past. He was detained for a week in November 2005 during the government’s crackdown on news coverage of unrest that followed disputed elections.

Woubshet did not appeal his conviction and applied for a pardon, according to local journalists. In August 2013, the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice rejected the request for a pardon, the Awramba Times reported.

Authorities have transferred Woubshet between several prisons, including the remote detention facility in the town of Ziway, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, according to local journalists and the Awramba Times. At Ziway, prison officials placed him in a section for political prisoners known as “chelema bete,” Amharic for “dark and closed,” where communication and access to open air are limited, according to local journalists and family members who visited him. In February 2014, prison authorities transferred him temporarily to solitary confinement for releasing a letter describing prison conditions, which was published in the privately owned newspaper Ethio-Midhar.

Local journalists said Woubshet contracted a kidney infection while in Ziway, likely by drinking contaminated water. In October 2014, authorities transferred him to Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, where he finally received medical treatment.

Woubshet published a book of essays written in prison called The Voice of Freedom in September 2014, which included details of his trial and the challenges Ethiopian journalists face. Police authorities restricted visits by friends and family after the book was released, local journalists said.

In October 2013, Woubshet was honored with the Free Press Africa Award at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards in Cape Town, South Africa. Woubshet is currently held at Ziway Prison, according to journalists living in exile who track his case. CPJ contacted Ethiopia’s Information Ministry in late October for comment. The ministry did not respond.

Eskinder Nega

Eskinder Nega

Eskinder Nega, EthioMedia
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
September 14, 2011

Ethiopian security forces arrested Eskinder, a prominent online columnist and former publisher and editor of now-shuttered newspapers, on vague accusations of involvement in a terrorism plot. The arrest came five days after Eskinder published a column on the U.S.-based news website EthioMedia that criticized the government for misusing the country’s sweeping anti-terrorism law to jail prominent journalists and dissident intellectuals.

CPJ believes the charges are part of a pattern of government persecution of Eskinder in reprisal for his coverage. In 2011, police detained Eskinder and threatened him in connection with his online columns that drew comparisons between the Egyptian uprising and Ethiopia’s 2005 pro-democracy protests, according to news reports. His coverage of the Ethiopian government’s repression of the 2005 protests landed him in jail for 17 months on anti-state charges at the time. After his release in 2007, authorities banned his newspapers and denied him licenses to start new ones. He was first arrested in September 1993 in connection with his articles in the Amharic weekly Ethiopia, one of the country’s first independent newspapers, about the government’s crackdown on dissent in Western Ethiopia, according to CPJ research.

Shortly after Eskinder’s 2011 arrest, state television portrayed the journalist as a spy for “foreign forces” and accused him of having links with the banned opposition movement Ginbot 7, which the Ethiopian government designated a terrorist entity. In an interview with Agence France-Presse, government spokesman Shimelis Kemal accused the detainee of plotting “a series of terrorist acts that would likely wreak havoc.” Eskinder consistently proclaimed his innocence, but was convicted on the basis of a video of a public town hall meeting in which he discussed the possibility of a popular uprising in Ethiopia if the ruling party did not deliver democratic reform, according to reports.

In July 2012, a federal high court judge in Addis Ababa sentenced Eskinder to 18 years in prison, according to local journalists and news reports. Five exiled journalists were convicted in absentia at the same time.

Also in 2012, a U.N. panel found that Eskinder’s imprisonment was “a result of his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression,” according to a report published in April 2013.

In May 2013, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal and upheld the sentence.

In January 2014, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers awarded him its annual Golden Pen of Freedom award.

An open letter, said to have been written by the journalist, was published on blogs in February 2016. Eskinder was still being held at Kality Prison in Addis Ababa, with restricted visits from family, journalists living in exile, who track the case, told CPJ. Ethiopian Satellite TV, an independent station run by Ethiopians in exile, cited a recently released inmate saying Eskinder had been subjected to psychological harassment, including the confiscation of his Bible and notebooks.

yemuslimoch

Solomon Kebede, Ye Muslimoch Guday
Medium:
Print
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
January 17, 2013

Police arrested the managing director of the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday (Muslim Affairs), as part of a broad crackdown on journalists and news outlets reporting on peaceful protests staged by Ethiopian Muslims against government policies they said interfered with their religious freedom. The government sought to link the protesters to Islamist extremists and attempted to suppress coverage by arresting several local and international journalists and forcing publications to close down, according to local journalists and news reports.

Solomon was held at the Maekelawi federal detention center for weeks without access to his family and with limited contact with his lawyer, according to local journalists.

Solomon was sentenced to prison in March 2016, three years after being arrested on anti-state charges, according to news reports. The Ethiopia Human Rights Project, a non-governmental organization, reported on its Twitter feed that Solomon was sentenced to three years and 11 months.

After a fire at Kilinto Prison in Addis Ababa on September 17, 2016 where Solomon was being held, many of the detainees were moved to Kality Prison, according to news reports. CPJ could not determine where Solomon was being held in late 2016. CPJ contacted Ethiopia’s Information Ministry in late October for comment about his case. The ministry did not respond.

ተመስገን ደሳለኝ

ተመስገን ደሳለኝ

Temesghen Desalegn, Feteh
Medium:
Print
Charge:
Anti-State, Defamation, False News
Imprisoned:
February 2013

The Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, convicted magazine owner Temesghen on October 13, 2014, of incitement, defamation, and false publication in connection with a 2012 defamation case, according to local journalists and news reports. On October 27, 2014, a court sentenced Temesghen to three years’ imprisonment, according to news reports. He is being held at the remote Ziway Prison, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, journalists living in exile, who track his case, told CPJ. The conviction stemmed from a series of opinion pieces published in Temesghen’s former news magazine Feteh (“Justice”) in 2012, according to the charge sheet reviewed by CPJ. The articles discussed the peaceful struggle of Ethiopian youth movements for political change, and two columns criticized alleged government efforts to violently suppress student protests and ethnic minorities, according to the charge sheet.

The court also charged in absentia Mastewal Birhanu, the former publisher of Feteh, with inciting the public to violence by printing the magazine, according to the charge sheet.

Authorities briefly arrested Temesghen on August 23, 2012, in relation to the same articles but dropped the charges and released the journalist five days later, according to news reports. In February 2013, a judge in the Federal High Court re-instated the charges without explanation. State prosecutors had announced in December 2012 that they would re-file unspecified charges against him, Temesghen told CPJ.

The government also ordered printers to block the distribution of Feteh in July 2012 in connection with a series of articles about the former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s health, local journalists said. Authorities blocked three other subsequent publications started by Temesghen, including Addis Times, Le’ilena (“Magnanimity”), and the latest, Fact, according to CPJ research.

The last edition of Fact was published in September 2014, local journalists told CPJ. In August 2014, the Justice Ministry accused Fact and five other independent weekly publications of inciting violence, publishing false news, and undermining public confidence in the government. All of the publications ceased printing.

In March 2015, CPJ learned that Temesghen had been denied essential medical care. Sources close to Temesghen told CPJ that because has denied care for existing stomach and back problems, Temesghen now has difficulty walking. Prison guards have denied Temesghen prison visits from anyone except his mother and brother, local journalists told CPJ.

zelalem
Zelalem Workagegnehu, De Birhan
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
July 8, 2014

Authorities arrested Zelalem at his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, on July 8, 2014 during a mass arrest of opposition leaders and social media activists, exiled Ethiopian journalists told CPJ. On October 31, 2014, Ethiopia’s Federal High Court charged Zelalem under the 2009 anti-terrorism law for having links to the Diaspora-based opposition group Ginbot 7 and for applying to attend a journalism training course, local journalists and reports said. No evidence was provided regarding his alleged links to the opposition group, local journalists added.

Zelalem, an active blogger who routinely contributed to the news website De Birhan and other websites, was working with exiled Ethiopian journalists to organize a journalism training course for himself and two of his colleagues, local journalists said. Zelalem and his colleagues had plans to launch a similar blog site to that of the Zone 9 bloggers who were arrested in April the same year, the same journalists told CPJ.

Zelalem was studying for a Masters in public administration at Addis Ababa University at the time of his arrest. In May 2016, Zelalem was sentenced to five years and four months in prison on vague anti-terror charges according to press reports. Journalists living in exile, who follow his case, told CPJ that Zelalem was initially held in Kilinto prison but they believe he has been transferred to Ziway prison.

darsema
Darsema Sori, Radio Bilal
Medium:
Radio
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
February 18, 2015

Authorities arrested Darsema, from the faith-based Radio Bilal, alongside his colleague, Khalid Mohammed, on February 18, 2015 after police called them in for questioning, local journalists said. On August 17, 2015, the two were charged along with 18 other defendants under the 2009 anti-terrorism law, accused of inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government and replace it with an Islamic government, according to news reports citing the charge sheet.

Darsema and Khalid’s trial was ongoing in late 2016, according to media reports.

Darsema worked as senior editor at Radio Bilal, local journalists said. Darsema had also been a columnist for the now-defunct Ye Muslimoch Guday (“Muslim Affairs”) magazine, local journalists told CPJ. The magazine ceased publishing in July 2012 after two of its editors went into hiding, local journalists said.

Darsema and Khalid extensively covered protests by the Ethiopian Muslim community that began in 2012 to condemn government interference in Islamic affairs, including the government closing of Awoliya College, the country’s only Muslim college, in 2011. Authorities claimed the institution was training Islamic radicals, according to news reports. Ethiopian authorities have since sought to silence the demonstrations by arresting protesters, community leaders, and independent reporters, and by shutting down news outlets, according to international news reports and CPJ research.

Darsema and Khalid have been imprisoned by authorities before. On August 2, 2013, they were arrested and held without charge for almost five months. Although no reason was provided, former Radio Bilal Chairman Mohammed Hassen said he believed the journalists were arrested for their extensive coverage and support of the Muslim protests.

Darsema and Khalid were being held at Kilinto Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Khalid Mohammed, Radio Bilal
Medium:
Radio
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
February 18, 2015

Authorities arrested Khaldid, from the faith-based Radio Bilal, alongside his colleague, Darsema Sori, on February 18, 2015 after police called them in for questioning, local journalists said. On August 17, 2015, the two were charged along with 18 other defendants under the 2009 anti-terrorism law, accused of inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government and replace it with an Islamic government, according to news reports citing the charge sheet.

Darsema and Khalid’s trial was ongoing in late 2016, according to media reports.

Khalid worked for Radio Bilal as the news editor, local journalists said. Khalid and Darsema extensively covered protests by the Ethiopian Muslim community that began in 2012 to condemn government interference in Islamic affairs, including the government closing of Awoliya College, the country’s only Muslim college, in 2011. Authorities claimed the institution was training Islamic radicals, according to news reports. Ethiopian authorities have since sought to silence the demonstrations by arresting protesters, community leaders, and independent reporters, and by shutting down news outlets, according to international news reports and CPJ research.

Khalid and Darsema have been imprisoned by authorities before. On August 2, 2013, they were arrested and held without charge for almost five months. Although no reason was provided, former Radio Bilal Chairman Mohammed Hassen said he believed the journalists were arrested for their extensive coverage and support of the Muslim protests.

Khalid and Darsema were being held at Kilinto Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa.

Getachew-Assefa

Getachew Shiferaw, Negere Ethiopia
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
Anti-State
Imprisoned:
December 25, 2015

Getachew, editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Negere Ethiopia, was arrested on December 25, 2015, amid a mass crackdown of journalists and activists opposed to a plan to extend the Ethiopian capital, according to news accounts.

Getachew was initially held at the Maekelawi federal police investigation center, where political detainees have been tortured and ill-treated, according to a 2013 report by Human Rights Watch.

Despite being brought before the courts several times, his case was postponed without charges being brought against him, the independent Addis Standard newspaper reported. After a court ordered his release after the four-month period in which Ethiopian law states a detainee must be charged, police charged him under the country’s anti-terror law, according to media reports.

is affiliated with the Blue Party, an opposition movement that has campaigned for greater political openness in Ethiopia, news reports said. The newspaper was forced to suspend its print edition in 2014, and now is distributed via social media. The outlet covers political trials, including proceedings against opposition politicians and journalists, co-founder of the Zone 9 blogging collective Soleyana S. Gebremichael told CPJ. It reported on calls by the Blue Party and the Oromo Federalist Party for a public demonstration to be held in late 2015, but for which authorities denied permission.

An Ethiopian journalist living in exile in Nairobi, who requested anonymity to due to fears of retaliation from Ethiopian authorities, told CPJ his contacts in Ethiopia indicated that Getachew was transferred to Kality prison, which hosts political prisoners, including several journalists. CPJ could not confirm where Getachew was being held in late 2016. Another journalist arrested in the same crackdown, Fikadu Mirkana, was charged under Ethiopia’s anti-terror laws and released in April 2016, when charges were dropped, according to civil society campaign group, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.

Hiber Radio Presents Seyum Teshome from AMBO University

Seyoum Teshome, Ethiothinktank
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
No charge
Imprisoned:
October 1, 2016

Seyoum, a blogger for the politics and business news website Ethiothinkthank, and a lecturer at the Ambo University campus in Woliso, about 110 kilometers (68 miles) southwest of capital Addis Ababa, was arrested by federal police who searched his home and took his computer, according to press accounts.

Seyoum regularly used his blog on Ethiothinktank to comment on current affairs, including anti-government protests. His posts also include a letter he wrote to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn about protests in the town of Weliso, where he was based.

The arrest came days after Seyoum was quoted in a New York Times article about Ethiopian marathon runner Feyisa Lilesa, who crossed his arms in a sign of solidarity with anti-government protesters at the finish line of the men’s marathon at the Rio Olympics.

International media frequently seek out Seyoum for comment on events in Ethiopia. In The New York Times article, Seyoum was quoted as saying the athlete’s symbolic protest action had struck a blow against the Ethiopian government’s carefully constructed image as a thriving developing state. “This was what the government was afraid of,” he told the newspaper.

Seyoum had not been charged as of late 2016. An Ethiopian journalist who has been in touch with the blogger’s relatives told CPJ that Seyoum is being held at the Woliso prison. CPJ contacted Ethiopia’s Information Ministry in October 2016 to request an update in his case. The ministry did not respond.

befeqaduhailu

Befekadu Hailu, Zone 9
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
No charge
Imprisoned:
November 11, 2016

Security forces arrested Befekadu–a co-founder of the Zone 9 blogging collective–at his home on November 11, 2016, according to news reports. By the end of November 2016, authorities had not announced any charge against the blogger.

An Ethiopian journalist living in exile in Kenya, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told CPJ that Befekadu’s criticism on his blog of the government’s handling of protests in the Oromo and Amhara regions of Ethiopia may have led to his detention.

The Africa News Agency quoted Befekadu’s friends as saying they believed he was arrested in relation to an interview he gave to the Amharic service of the U.S.-government-funded Voice of America, in which he criticized authorities’ handling of the large-scale anti-government protests.

Befekadu had anticipated his arrest, writing in a blog post after the government declared a state of emergency in October 2016 that he expected to be detained, according to Ethiopian diaspora media.

His arrest came during a renewed crackdown on the media and mass arrests. Security forces detained more than 11,000 people after declaring a six-month state of emergency on October 10, Taddesse Hordofa, of the Ethiopian government’s State of Emergency Inquiry Board, said in a televised statement on November 12, 2016.

Befekadu has been detained before. He and the other Zone 9 bloggers, who were awarded CPJ’s 2015 International Press Freedom Award, were acquitted of terrorism in October 2015, but Befekadu was told he still faced a charge of incitement, according to media reports. In late 2016, the incitement case was still pending. In late 2016, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court was hearing prosecutors’ appeal against the lower court’s October 2015 acquittal of Befekadu and four other Zone 9 bloggers on the terrorism charges.

Getachew Worku, Ethio-Mihidar
Medium:
Print
Charge:
Defamation, False News
Imprisoned:
November 4, 2016

An Addis Ababa court on November 15 sentenced Getachew Worku, editor of the independent weekly newspaper Ethio-Mihidar, to one year in prison over an article alleging corruption in a monastery, the Addis Standard reported.

Getachew was accused of defaming the Saint Mary’s patriarchal monastery by alleging that its leadership was linked to corruption, according to media reports. Prosecutors charged him with defamation and spreading false information under Article 613 of the Ethiopian criminal code, Africa News reported.

Getachew pleaded not guilty and will appeal, an exiled Ethiopian journalist who followed the case from Kenya and who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, told CPJ.

The journalist in Kenya, who has spoken with colleagues of Getachew, said the newspaper was ordered to print a correction and to publicize details of the court verdict in Getachew’s case. CPJ was unable to determine if the correction and details of the verdict were published.

Getachew’s reporting focuses on corruption in Ethiopian institutions. In November 2013, CPJ documented how Getachew and two colleagues were detained briefly over a report alleging corruption in Legetafo, a town northeast of Addis Ababa.

Getachew is being held at Qilinto prison.

anania-soriAnania Sorri, Freelance
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
No charge
Imprisoned:
November 17, 2016

Anania Sorri was detained November 17 in Addis Ababa on his way to tell friends he suspected he would be arrested, Enateyee Enat, a friend of the journalist who has followed his case closely from exile in the U.S., told CPJ.

Anania told Enateyee that he expected to be among those targeted under the six-month state of emergency declared on October 9, 2016 after months of unrest-particularly after his friend and fellow journalist, Eyouel Fisseha, was arrested, Enateyee told CPJ.

Anania frequently posts critical commentary on Ethiopian affairs on his public Facebook page, which has more than 11,000 followers. He is frequently interviewed about the situation in Ethiopia by international media, including Voice of America and Deutsche Welle, Enateyee said.

In 2015, Anania tried to publish a newspaper, Kedami Getse, as the managing editor, but he printed only one edition before authorities shut it down, Enateyee said. Ethiopian authorities frequently shut down independent publications, harass printing companies, and block websites, CPJ research shows.

Anania’s arrest could be connected to an appearance on the pro-government Fana TV station on September 25, 2016, according to the journalist’s colleagues and friends who spoke to CPJ. During the panel discussion, Anania blamed the ruling Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) for the country’s problems, said Habtamu Assefa, an exiled Ethiopian journalist in the U.S.

A report on the Toronto-based online Ethiopian news and opinion Borkena website about the Fana TV appearance said Anania cited the TPLF’s “lust for maintaining power at the expense of the existence of Ethiopia as a country,” and said he was widely hailed for his bravery on social media.

According to Enateyee, the journalist was initially held at Gerji police station in Addis Ababa, where he was barred from communicating with his relatives, before being transferred to Megenagna prison where he was able to receive family visits.

As of November 30, 2016, no charges against Anania had been disclosed. Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment in late November 2016. A ministry spokesman, Mohamed Seid, also did not reply to requests for information.

Ethiopia: Journalist Elias Gebru on Addis Ababa Protests | Hiber RadioElias Gebru, Freelance
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
No charge
Imprisoned:
November 17, 2016

Elias Gebru was arrested at the Romina Hotel in Addis Ababa on November 17, 2016, according to Enateyee Enat, a friend of the journalist who has followed his case closely from exile in the U.S. Elias was at the hotel to utilize its internet connection to post new information on social media about the jailed journalists Woubshet Taye and Temesgen Desalegn, Enateyee told CPJ.

Elias is the former editor-in-chief of the bi-weekly magazine Addis Getse–which closed earlier this year–and the independent news magazine Enku, which closed in 2014. Authorities issued a statement in 2014 accusing Enku and other independent outlets of spreading false information and inciting violence, according to reports. Elias was arrested in 2014 in relation to a column in Enku about a controversial monument to ethnic Oromos massacred in the 19th century, CPJ reported at the time. According to Habtamu Assefa, an exiled Ethiopian journalist in the U.S., Elias faces criminal defamation charges in connection to that column and has attended 23 court hearings in the case since November 2014. The next court date was scheduled for December 29, 2016, Habtamu said.

After the magazines closed, Elias used Facebook to post news about the situation in Ethiopia; his public Facebook page has more than 14,500 followers. Elias was critical on Facebook of the ruling TPLF (Tigray People’s Liberation Front) and the state of emergency declared by authorities in October after months of unrest. Habtamu said Elias posted daily about harsh treatment of citizens and human rights abuses, including the detention of politicians and journalists.

Elias also gave frank commentary on Voice of America and on diaspora radio stations including Hiber based in Las Vegas, Enateyee told CPJ.

In a September 20, 2016 Facebook post, Elias said he had received emailed death threats from an unknown person, Habtamu told CPJ.

As of November 30, 2016, no new charges against Elias had been disclosed. Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment in late 2016.

Elias was in Megenagna prison in Addis Ababa. Friends who visited him told Enateyee that he was suffering from stomach cramps because of the dirty water in prison and that they suspected he had been beaten.

Eyoel Fisseha Damte, Freelance
Medium:
Internet
Charge:
No charge
Imprisoned:
November 2, 2016

Eyoel Fisseha Damte was arrested on November 2, 2016, in relation to an argument in a bar, and granted bail by a court pending investigation, according to two Ethiopian journalists living in exile who have been following his case closely. But police, after discovering that he reported critically on Ethiopian authorities, refused to release him, telling Eyoel they were acting on the orders of the body overseeing Ethiopia’s state of emergency, according to Soleyana Gebremichael and Dawit Solomon.

Authorities can detain a person without charge for the six-month duration of the state of emergency that was declared in October after months of unrest, Soleyana, a co-founder of the Zone 9 blogging collective, told CPJ.

Eyoel is a former co-editor of the newspapers Finot Netsanet and Addis Geth. He turned to Facebook and other outlets to report after the papers closed in 2015 and 2016, in part because of government pressure on the independent press in Ethiopia, Dawit told CPJ.

On his public Facebook page, Eyoel covered jailed politicians and journalists, prison conditions, and the state of emergency. CPJ was unable to view the Facebook page or determine the number of Eyoel’s followers because it has been deactivated.

“He wrote about the torture inside Maekelaw interrogation center and he had also visited Zeway prison. After his return he wrote about jailed journalist Woubshet Taye’s illness and hunger strike,” Dawit said.

As of November 30, 2016, Eyoel had not been charged with a crime. He is at Woreda 19 police station in Addis Ababa, Dawit and Soleyana said. Enateyee Enat, a friend of the journalist who has followed his case closely from exile in the U.S., told CPJ that a friend who has visited him said he had been assaulted in custody

Ethiopian Communications Minister Negeri Lencho did not respond to CPJ’s requests for comment sent via email and text messages. Ministry spokesman Mohamed Seid did not reply to CPJ’s calls and text messages requesting comment.

https://cpj.org/imprisoned/2016.php


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