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Ethiopia Charges Political Opponents, Journalists With Treason

Ethiopia's government has formally charged 131 political opponents, journalists and others with crimes ranging from treason to genocide.

About 50 of the defendants were present as prosecutors filed the charges in an Addis Ababa courtroom on Wednesday.

Others were outside the country, including five journalists with the Voice of America's Amharic-language service in Washington. The VOA staffers were charged in absentia with involvement in an alleged plot to overthrow the government.

Journalist Negussie Mengesha, one of the five charged, and VOA Director David Jackson both rejected the charges. Mr. Jackson called them "an obvious attempt to intimidate our broadcasters."

The defendants in Ethiopian custody include politicians from the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy as well as 14 Ethiopian journalists.

The charges are related to anti-government riots in June and November in which more than 80 people were killed. Opposition groups claim the government rigged national elections in May.

Some of the charges filed Wednesday carry a penalty of death.