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 Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid