News

Ethiopian Terrorism Trial Hears Journalist Defendant

Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (file photo)
Federal High Court building in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (file photo)

A dissident Ethiopian journalist on trial for terrorism has categorically denied the charges and warned the court that history would judge its verdict.  

A three-judge panel listened Wednesday as journalist Eskinder Nega described himself as a prisoner of conscience and rejected accusations that he had conspired to overthrow the government through violence.

Eskinder is one of 24 defendants, including opposition politicians and several exiled journalists, charged with supporting Ginbot Seven, a political party the government has labelled a terrorist group. Lawyers say they could face the death penalty if convicted.

In a 20-minute presentation, Eskinder challenged the prosecution's case.  He admitted writing and speaking about whether an Arab Spring-like movement might take root in Ethiopia, and calling for peaceful protests, but denied advocating violence or unconstitutional change.

Prominent opposition politician and co-defendant Andualem Aragie told the court earlier in the week that the government case was based on lies.  The chief defense witness, former Ethiopian president Negasso Gidada, testified that the defendants had been working within the law in advocating for political change.

The prosecution had earlier presented scratchy, nearly inaudible recordings of telephone conversations and other comments as evidence that the defendants were plotting terrorist acts.

Human rights and press freedom groups have criticized Ethiopia's anti-terrorism law, saying it violates the country's constitution and inhibits political freedom.  

Shortly before his arrest, Eskinder had written an online column blasting the law as an attempt to stifle dissent.

His wife Serkalem Fasil, who was jailed with him after the disputed 2005 elections, told VOA Wednesday Eskinder had been pleased with his defense but discouraged at having to battle against being labelled a terrorist.

She says Eskinder is angry at being accused of being a member of the Ginbot Seven party.
She said, “He's a journalist, not a member of a political party.”

Eskinder and Andualem were among 130 journalists and opposition political activists convicted of treason and sentenced to life in prison following the 2005 elections.  They were later pardoned.

They were re-arrested along with six others last September, soon after the 2009 anti-terrorism law became operational.  Another 18 defendants identified as supporters of the Ginbot Seven party were charged in absentia.  Most of them are political exiles in the United States.

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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
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 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.

VOA Blogs