News / Africa

Ethiopia Sentences 3 Journalists to Long Prison Terms

An Ethiopian court on Thursday sentenced three journalists and two opposition political activists to long prison sentences for terrorism-related offenses.  

Exiled internet blogger Elias Kifle was sentenced in absentia to life in prison.  Kifle is editor of the U.S.-based Ethiopian Review website, which regularly features scathing criticisms of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi's government.

A three-judge federal panel last week convicted Kifle, two local newspaper journalists and two political activists of violating Ethiopia's anti-terrorism law.  The charges included conspiring with the Ginbot Seven opposition political party, which Ethiopia considers a terrorist organization.

The two local journalists - Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye - received 14-year sentences.  Reeyot was a columnist for Fiteh, Ethiopia's only remaining independent newspaper devoted to politics.  Woubshet was deputy editor of the Awramba Times paper.  The paper stopped publishing and editor Dawit Kebede fled into exile after Woubshet's arrest.

Reeyot's attorney, Molla Zegeye, says he is disappointed by the harshness of the sentence against his client, given that no terrorist acts were committed.

"I didn't expect this sentence.  I didn't," he said.  "It was an attempt.  She didn't commit the terrorist crime.  She didn't as far as I'm concerned.  She's a journalist, a professional journalist.  Well, it shouldn't be like this."

At the trial, prosecutors presented emails and other documents as evidence that Woubshet and Reeyot were conspiring to organize acts of terrorism.

The Committee to Protect Journalists
issued a statement Thursday saying that the convictions were based on their writings about political dissent.  The organization says that at least 10 journalists are in Ethiopian jails, including two Swedes who recently were sentenced to 11 years in prison on terrorism-related charges.  The Swedes were arrested last June in the restive Ogaden region in the company of armed members of an outlawed rebel group.

After the conviction, the Swedish government issued a statement saying that it considers the pair legitimate journalists, and called for their prompt release.  An Ethiopian spokesman said the government has no remorse about the convictions.

Another Ethiopian blogger, Eskinder Nega, is facing similar terrorism charges and could face the death penalty, if convicted.  He is among 24 defendants, including several exiled journalists and two prominent opposition politicians who are also accused of involvement with the outlawed Ginbot Seven group.

Government spokesmen repeatedly have rejected charges that Ethiopia restricts press freedom.  Government officials say the convicted journalists used their profession as a cover for terrorist activities.

You May Like

French Refugee Drama Wins Cannes Top Prize

Dheepan is about a group of Sri Lankan refugees who pretend to be a family in order to flee their war-torn country for a housing project in France More

Photogallery Crisis in Macedonia Requires Meaningful and Swift Measures

The international community has called on Macedonian leadership to take concrete measures in support of democracy in order to exit the crisis More

Activists: IS Executes 217 Civilians, Soldiers Near Palmyra

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Sunday said the victims include nurses, women, children and Syrian government fighters 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
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.
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.
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 Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs