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US Welcomes Ethiopia's Decision to Drop Charges Against VOA Journalists, 13 Others


The United States has welcomed Ethiopia's decision to drop charges of treason and genocide against 18 people, including five journalists for the Voice of America.

A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said Thursday the move was a welcome step. However, he noted that Ethiopia is still continuing to prosecute 111 opposition members and others, charged following clashes over last year's disputed elections.

The spokesman urged Ethiopia to ensure all those charged receive a fair trial.

VOA Director David Jackson said Wednesday the VOA has always maintained the charges against its employees were without merit. He said the VOA will continue to bring accurate and objective news to Ethiopia.

The five VOA journalists, Negussie Mengesha, Addisu Abebe, Tizita Belachew, Adanech Fessehaye and Solomon Kifle, work in Washington and were never in Ethiopian custody.

Several others whose charges were dropped Thursday were also being tried in absentia.

More than 80 people died last year when Ethiopian security forces clashed with demonstrators protesting election results that the opposition says were rigged.

The next hearing against the opposition members is scheduled for May second.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.