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More Journalists Arrested in Ethiopia

The Committee to Protect Journalists says Ethiopian authorities have arrested two more editors. It says that brings the number of journalists arrested over the past two weeks to eight.

Alexis Arief is a spokeswoman for the CPJ. From New York, she spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua about the latest arrests. The journalists are identified as Andualem Ayle of the Amharic-language weekly Ethiop and Nardos Meaza of the Amharic-language weekly, Satanaw. Both are privately owned newspapers.

She says, “We’re very concerned, in fact, we’re appalled by these on going arrests…it’s very difficult to get information on their status, where they’re being held, etc, especially since much of the remaining private press is in hiding and fearing arrest. So we are calling on the Ethiopian authorities to release these journalists from prison, to end their apparent attempt to shutdown the entire independent media in Ethiopia. Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has also announced his intention to charge detainees, including opposition leaders and civil society leaders and these journalists with treason, which is obviously a very serious offense and is punishable by life in prison or by even the death penalty.”

Asked on what grounds the journalists could be charged with treason, Ms. Arief says, “It’s very unclear actually and the government is not being forthcoming about the kind of evidence they might bring against the journalists…and they’ve lumped opposition leaders and journalists together.” Published reports quote Ethiopian police say saying in all about 5,400 people are being detained as a result of the recent violence. They’re also quoted as saying the detainees are in good condition and can be visited by relatives.