News / Africa

Ethiopia Sentences 3 Journalists to Long Prison Terms

TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid