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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer 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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs