News / Africa

Ethiopian Journalists Flee as Others Tried for Terror

Pedestrians walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 1, 2011.
Pedestrians walk past the Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, November 1, 2011.

Two newspaper columnists known for sharp criticisms of Ethiopia's government are reported to have fled into exile, just as other journalists being tried on charges of treason and espionage.

Ethiopia's journalist community was abuzz Tuesday with word that "Abe Tokichaw" has become the latest government critic to flee the country. The pen name, which in the Oromo language means "Abe the one and only," is the moniker of writer Abebe Tola, who gained notoriety for political satire that pokes fun at Ethiopia's ruling party and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.

His irreverent columns have appeared in two privately owned newspapers, Feteh (Justice) and the Awramba Times, both known for their anti-government editorial line.

Abebe was last seen by colleagues a few days ago at the trial of Awramba Times Deputy Editor Woubshet Taye, and Feteh columnist Reeyot Alemu, both of whom were arrested in July on terrorism-related charges. At the time, a government spokesman said the arrests had nothing to do with their professional activities.

Abebe is reported to have fled in the company of Tesfaye Degu, who writes a column for the opposition Unity for Democracy and Justice (UDJ) party newspaper.

A topic of discussion

The number of government critics in exile was the topic of discussion Tuesday at the terrorism trial of 24 others, including at least six journalists and a number of opposition political figures.

All but one of the journalists are living abroad and working with opposition media. The only journalist in the defendant's box: Eskinder Nega, who continued to blog after four newspapers that he and his wife operated were shut down following the disputed 2005 elections.

Political figures standing trial include Andualem Arage and Natnael Mekonnen, two rising stars in the UDJ, the largest party in the main opposition coalition Medrek. The UDJ chairman, former Ethiopian president Negaso Gidada, said the espionage and treason charges they face sound like the legitimate activities of any political organizer.

"Andualem and Natnael are official leaders of UDJ, and whatever they speak is for UDJ," said Gidada. "Unless [the prosecutors] have very different evidence, the accusations they brought against them should be in fact directed against UDJ. Public relations, youth organizing - they are supposed to do these things, and saying that Andualem and Natnael are accused of these things is really funny."

The exiled journalists being tried in absentia include senior editors of Addis Neger, a newspaper that closed down in the face of government pressure in 2009. The paper has continued its critical editorial line in an online edition.

Several other journalists have since gone into exile, including Argaw Ashine. Argaw was named in a WikiLeaks cable as having warned the Addis Neger staff that they were the target of a government investigation.

All 24 defendants on trial Tuesday are accused of belonging to the outlawed Ginbot 7 party led by Berhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsige. Ginbot 7 is the Ethiopian calendar date of Ethiopia's disputed 2005 elections, in which Berhanu was elected mayor of Addis Ababa.

Andargachew, described in the charge as the founder of Ginbot 7, is accused of working with Ethiopia's arch enemy Eritrea to organize a terrorist plot aimed at assassinating senior public officials and attacking sensitive government institutions.

Both Andargachew and Berhanu were tried in absentia in the same court on similar charges last year. Both were sentenced to death.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid