News / Africa

    4 Journalists Face Terrorism Charges in Ethiopia

    Ethiopia has filed terrorism charges against two Swedish journalists arrested in July in the company of rebel fighters in the restive Ogaden region. Two Ethiopian journalists are also facing terrorism charges in a separate case.

    Ethiopian officials say the two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, were taken before a judge in Addis Ababa this week and charged under a newly-enacted anti-terrorism law. They were ordered held until a further court appearance October 17.

    The pair was captured July 1 after a gun battle between Ethiopian forces and rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Force.  News reports at the time said at least 15 ONLF fighters were killed in the fight and one of the journalists was wounded.

    The ONLF has been fighting since the mid-1980s for self-determination of the Ogaden, or Somali region in eastern Ethiopia, bordering Somalia.

    The two freelance journalists had reportedly been travelling with ONLF fighters for a story on the drought and malnutrition crisis in parts of eastern Ethiopia where the rebels are active.

    But prosecutors say the pair had entered the country illegally and were promoting terrorism through their professional activities.  The Ethiopian government has classified the ONLF as a terrorist group.

    The charges against the Swedish reporters came the same day as two Ethiopian journalists working for private media appeared in court in a separate terrorism case.

    Wubshet Taye, deputy editor of the Amharic language Awramba Times and columnist Reiyot Alemu of the Feteh newspaper have been held without bail since their arrests in June.  They were detained days after Reiyot Alemu wrote a column sharply critical of Ethiopia’s ruling party, the EPRDF.  Both were ordered this week to remain in custody until October 18th to allow more time for preparation of the case against them.

    In a telephone interview, Awramba Times Editor-in-Chief Dawit Kebede rejected the terrorism charge against his deputy.  He said the charges are part of a government campaign to intimidate independent media.

    "This is an act of sending the private media to the recycling bin. This is the approach of the government but it has nothing to do with terrorism," he said. "For this government terrorism means being critical of its policies."

    The new anti-terrorism law under which the journalists are charged has come in for sharp criticism from human rights and press freedom groups.  The statute criminalizes any reporting authorities deem to "encourage" or "provide moral support" to groups and causes the government labels as "terrorists."

    Members of the United Nations Human Rights Committee have described the law as "overly vague."  One committee member recently told an Ethiopian representative “the vague language in the statute allows the criminalization of acts that are not really acts of terrorism."

    Five organizations have been named as terrorist groups under the law, including the ONLF and the Oromo Liberation Front, or OLF.  Two prominent opposition politicians were among 29 members of Ethiopia’s ethnic Oromo community detained last month under the law.  

    Oromos are Ethiopia’s largest ethnic group, comprising more than 30 percent of the population.

    You May Like

    US Watching as North Korea Opens Biggest Political Meeting in Decades

    As Workers' Party Congress opens, Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora