News / Africa

    Ethiopian Journalist Arrested Over Article About Former PM's Wife

    Marthe van der Wolf
    An Ethiopian journalist has been arrested and interrogated for writing an article about the wife of late prime minister Meles Zenawi. Wednesday's arrest came as a surprise since the article was published seven months ago.
     
    Ethiopian journalist Ferew Abebe, editor-in-chief of the weekly publication Sendek, said he was summoned Wednesday to the Federal Police Crime Investigation Department office. He was interrogated about an article he wrote and published seven months ago and was accused of defaming the former first lady, Azeb Mesfin.
     
    Ferew said he was very surprised about the interrogation and being treated like a criminal. He said the federal police asked him many questions and wanted him to reveal his sources. They then took his fingerprints, personal details and photos before releasing him on $265 bail.

    Asked for comment, an official in the Ethiopian prime minister's office, Getachew Redda, said he has no knowledge about journalists being interrogated for writing rumors about the former first lady.

    According to the published article, the wife refused to leave the prime minister's palace weeks after the death of her husband, making it impossible for Meles successor Hailemariam Desalegn to move in.

    The federal police say someone filed a complaint about the article, but would not say who.
     
    Ferew was summoned Wednesday morning to appear at the police office and he said he was not told why. By the time the interrogation started, he said, he did not get the chance to contact his lawyer. Ferew said he was not intimidated by the government’s actions. He said that he knows he did his work professionally and that this gives him strength to not hold back in the future.
     
    Prosecutors say they are looking into the case and will take Ferew to court if there is enough evidence.
     
    Rights groups say Ethiopia has a poor record when it comes to freedom of speech for local journalists. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists says seven Ethiopian journalists currently are in prison.  The appeal of prominent blogger Eskinder Nega was denied earlier this month, meaning he has to serve an 18-year jail sentence.



    --

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mimi
    May 16, 2013 6:13 PM
    His source, as usual, are ethnocentric Diaspora opposition groups, and it's comical they were so worried that Hailemariam, a protégé of late P.M. who they despise, was not in the palace sooner.

    by: Alem
    May 16, 2013 2:46 PM
    The journalist wrote that the widow of the late Prime Minister would not vacate the official residence for the incoming family for two whole months. Wasn't this the fact? The journalist also reported that during the two months the new Prime Minister had to commute in the process creating traffic nightmare as his entourage would take up space. That also was true. So where is the problem? How was this a story? Just another illustration of lawless leaders.
    In Response

    by: Yodit
    May 17, 2013 10:54 AM
    Wondu, Ethiopians don't feels sorry for your rich relatives living in mansions at Old Airport neighborhood. If Hailemariam motorcade made them miserable because they stopped twice a day, then Hailemariam policies to stop abuse of housemaids should hopefully give them indigestion.
    In Response

    by: Tadias
    May 16, 2013 9:02 PM
    There's a difference between her being allowed to stay, and reporting she "refused to leave." Nobody believes her own husband's political party that was still mourning his death was in a hurry to throw her out.
    In Response

    by: Wondu
    May 16, 2013 7:39 PM
    I have relatives who live in the area (old Airport) where the residents were forced to suffer the traffic nightmare created by the new Prime Minister's commuting from his residence to his office - oblivious of the problem. How nice of him to allow the former first lady to stay in the palace. This should give us a hint of his leadership (sub-subservient)

    by: Legal Ref from: California, U.S.
    May 16, 2013 2:11 PM
    I guess lawsuits for criminal defamation are only permitted in the White Western world, but called "human rights violations" in developing nations.

    Please refer to U.S. Supreme Court case New York Times Co. v. Sullivan...State laws also permit up to two years to file.

    P.M. Hailemariam had publicly stated the family of late Meles Zenawi should remain at official residence until secure accommodations were completed.
    In Response

    by: Walid
    May 18, 2013 1:05 PM
    If Alem lives in Ethiopia, then I’m the Queen of England.
    In Response

    by: Mimi
    May 18, 2013 12:21 PM
    Alem, aka Hagos, you're the one who keeps accusing everyone of being a consulate member in all your aliases, one trick pony even on this comment board. The tributes to late Meles are copied and posted by everyone because it gives us all pride, and makes ethnic haters like you burn inside out.

    You also clearly never read the Global Financial Integrity Report, because the figure is actually $8.5 billon over ten years due to loss of tax revenue and illegal money exchange, quote "...Finding of the report that raised eyebrows among panelists was the revelation that the usual suspects of African dictators and their cronies do not have as much part in the money laundering scheme as members of the private sector."

    And as for the government "stealing aid money," the BBC retracted that story with an apology after Sir Bob Geldof threatened defamation lawsuit, which thanks to your bogus accusation brings us full circle to topic of current VOA article!
    In Response

    by: Alem
    May 18, 2013 12:20 AM
    Mimi, actually I live in Ethiopia. I was 10 when Derg was overthrown. I write such comments only when I travel outside our country. And yet people like you try to stop me from expressing myself even in America. Your comments are evidence that you and others like yourself are provided with ready-made responses from the consulate to distract from the real issues and to deceive readers. A fellow that goes by the name of "Ras Mitat" last week used an identical set of quotes [in that order] in defense of the late-Meles Zenawi. It could be you are using the two aliases, which only goes to show the desperation within the ruling minority. I am glad to hear you say you and your party love America; the problem is that American taxpayers do NOT love thieves. Obama did indeed say the words you quoted on Meles' death. Were you expecting Obama to say Meles was a tyrant who never would abide by free and fair elections? One issue is that American people do not know the full story that the late-Prime Minister and his wife and their comrades stole aid money. May I suggest that you call Office of Global Financial Integrity in Washington, D.C., and hear for yourself that $16.5 billions were smuggled out of Ethiopia by the rulers in a decade starting in 2001? It could be you are not interested in such facts. Be good.
    In Response

    by: Mimi
    May 17, 2013 9:42 PM
    Sorry Alem, you Derg murderers lost the war and fled to Diaspora, and the rest of us are building Ethiopia. We love America, and American government believes in us. Now close your eyes, facts coming:

    Barak Obama: “Prime Minister Meles deserves recognition for his lifelong contribution to Ethiopia’s development, particularly his unyielding commitment to Ethiopia’s poor.”

    Bill Gates: “Meles Zenawi was a visionary leader who brought real benefits to Ethiopia’s poor.” Gates flew to Ethiopia for funeral!

    Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and former World Bank Chief Economist: “Meles Zenawi showed that, with the right policies in place, even a poor African country could experience sustained economic growth."
    In Response

    by: Alem
    May 17, 2013 12:12 PM
    The hallmark of those who comment from their consulate hideout is this: they would quote American experience when it suits them and a little later denounce America as imperialist/neo-liberal, etc; they tend to compare mice and lions and facts and fiction. Anbessaw is case in point. He wants us to believe JFK and Meles Zenawi are comparable? JFK was elected, Meles was not [and remained in power for 22 years against the will of the people]. In the US Presidential election results are announced first week of November followed by Inauguration the 3rd week of January.

    In Ethiopia elections are determined before voting ever took place. It took nearly six months to determine who was going to replace Meles Zenawi. Deputy PM Hailemariam was finally agreed on because none of Meles' comrades could allow one of their numbers to jump into the slot; and what should not be forgotten is that Obama had to weigh in with a phone call in support of Hailemariam. I know you will come back and deny this despite the glaring facts. Jacqueline Kennedy left the White House earlier than usual in December because VP Johnson was already installed as president following JFK's assassination. Are you now going to argue Meles was assassinated?
    In Response

    by: Anbessaw
    May 17, 2013 10:42 AM
    @ Truth, Jan 19 is inauguration day in U.S. after election, not the same scenario but I'm sure you don't care.

    Jacqueline Kennedy stayed in White House for a month after assassination of President Kennedy, even though they owned many private mansions. Meles also died suddenly, and his own party and deputy gave the family time to find new residence, since they owned none. If that somehow bitterly upsets you, then seek counseling.
    In Response

    by: Anbessaw
    May 16, 2013 9:10 PM
    @Hagos of Eritrea, I guess you know nothing about government, the new leader of any country has the right to move private residence anywhere he wants. Even your President Isayas lives in Massawa for his own safety.
    In Response

    by: Truth from: U.S.
    May 16, 2013 8:04 PM
    "criminal defamation"?!?! ... If you really know about the "White Western world" and trying to compare yourself with them, which President stayed in the WH past Jan. 19 - the last day of their presidency?!?! ... which "White Western world" has the most journalist - most of all - AWARD WINNER journalist in prison?!?! ... Let me just say that you're doing what you're doing - and feeling so untouchable - is because, and ONLY BECAUSE, that this "White Western world" - that you despise so much - is on your side (ally). Someday when they realize that they're sleeping with a terrorist like yourself (and your aunt Azeb), your glory days will be OVER!... Finished!!
    In Response

    by: Wondu
    May 16, 2013 7:31 PM
    Legal Ref,

    You cited the law of defamation in a place where due process is followed. In contrast, Ethiopia is ruled by the law of the mafia.
    In Response

    by: Hagos
    May 16, 2013 2:50 PM
    Nice try G from Ethiopian consulate. What a silly idea that was. Moving the late-Prime Minister's wife out of the palace is not for Hailemariam to determine. Your true color showed through - inadvertently I should say.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.