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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid