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Google News : Ethiopia : Top News
New York, January 26, 2012-A U.S.-based journalist convicted on politicized terrorism charges in Ethiopia was sentenced to life in absentia today, while two other Ethiopian journalists received heavy prison sentences in connection with their coverage of banned opposition groups, according to news reports.
Elias Kifle, exiled Ethiopian editor of the Washington-based opposition website Ethiopian Review, was handed a life sentence in absentia today, which followed a 2007 life sentence given to him also in absentia on charges of treason for his coverage of the government’s brutal repression of 2005 post-election protests, CPJ research shows. A court in the capital, Addis Ababa, sentenced Reeyot Alemu, a columnist with the independent weekly Feteh, and Woubshet Taye, deputy editor of the now-defunct weekly Awramba Times, to 14 years in prison and 33,000 birrs (US$1,500), news reports said.
“The life sentence for Elias Kifle and the prison sentences for Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye are based on their writings about political dissent. This verdict has little to do with justice,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We condemn this politicized prosecution designed to cow critical voices into silence and call on the Supreme Court to reverse all the convictions.”
The three journalists were charged in September with lending support to an underground network of banned opposition groups, which has been criminalized under the country’s 2009 antiterrorism law. Alemu and Taye were arrested in June and held for weeks on government accusations of plotting to sabotage telephone and electricity lines before they were charged. In the trial, government prosecutors presented as evidence intercepted emails and phone calls between the journalists, as well as more than 25 Ethiopian Review articles on the activities of opposition groups, CPJ research shows.
Eskinder Nega, another Ethiopian blogger, has been imprisoned since September and could be sentenced to death if convicted of similar politicized terrorism charges in connection with his coverage of banned opposition groups.
SEATTLE (Ethiomedia) – Ethiopian rebels on Sunday said they were responsible for the January 17 attack near the famed Arta-Ale Volcano but blamed Ethiopian forces for the deaths of five European nationals.
The Afar Revolutionary Democratic Unity Front (ARDUF), a rebel group fighting for greater autonomy for their region, said a battle broke out when their patrolling unit came under attack by Ethiopian forces.
ARDUF said 16 Ethiopian soldiers were killed, about a dozen others wounded and an unspecified number taken captive.
Afars are ferociously proud of their hospitable culture, and sent out messages of condolence to the families who lost their loved ones.
“We regret the death of those innocent civilians. ARDUF would like to convey its sincere condolence and sympathy to the families and relatives of dead peaceful tourists,” the Front said.
ARDUF also said the German nationals as well as Ethiopian soldiers, whom it said were in safe hands, would be released once peaceful mediation was conducted by Afar elders.
Tourists from the group who were attacked in Ethiopia’s northern Afar region arrive in Addis Ababa on January 18. (AFP Photo/Jenny Vaughan) Though Ethiopia accuses Eritrea of the attacks, ARDUF categorically denied of Eritrean government involvement.
“The fighting occurred between ARDUF and TPLF led Ethiopian forces. Both European Nationals and Ethiopian soldiers were killed in battle with ARDUF. Therefore Ethiopian accusation of Eritrea of arming and training Afar Rebel (ARDUF) is baseless and unfounded,” it said.
ARDUF said the European nationals were killed by Ethiopian forces who were accompanying them.
Showing a footage of European nationals on state-owned Ethiopian TV while saying nothing about the soldiers killed and captured by ARDUF was aimed at criminalizing us first and exonerating the criminals second, ARDUF said.
“We can also confirm that European Nationals were absolutely killed by the Ethiopian forces who were accompanying them. TPLF–State-ETV [state-owned tv] showing only European Nationals on TV, while they kept their dead soldiers and injured secret in order to criminalize us first, illegalize our legitimate political demand second; and to terrorize Afar people in the region further in the name of fighting terrorism ,” the rebels said in their statement.
ARDUF had about seven times captured foreign nationals who had ventured into the Danakil Depression but had released their captives without any harm whatsoever.
The latest deadliest attack has sparked fears that the two neighboring countries may go back to war reminiscent of the 1998-2000 war in which over 70,000 soldiers were killed from both sides.
Ethiopia says Eritrea-trained gunmen killed tourists
By Aaron Maasho
ADDIS ABABA | Wed Jan 18, 2012 2:16am IST
(Reuters) – Gunmen have killed five foreign tourists in Ethiopia’s remote northern Afar region, after crossing into the Horn of Africa country from neighbouring Eritrea which trained and armed the attackers, an Ethiopian official said on Tuesday.
A Western diplomat told Reuters German nationals were among those killed in the shooting which happened late on Monday. He did not confirm the total number of dead.
Afar is known to be a haunt of Ethiopian rebels who regularly cross over the border with Eritrea, Ethiopia’s bitter foe, Addis Ababa says. Eritrean rebels and bandits are also in the area at times.
“The group of foreign tourists was attacked by gunmen late on Monday, by members of a group that was trained and armed by the Eritrean government. It’s the usual terrorist activity by the regime,” Bereket Simon, Ethiopia’s government spokesman, told Reuters.
There was no immediate comment from the Eritrean authorities. The Red Sea state often says Ethiopia “fabricates” lies to tarnish its image.
Ethiopian state television said two other tourists had been seriously wounded in the attack, while another tourist had escaped unharmed.
An Ethiopian Foreign Ministry official, who declined to be named, said the government believed there were nationals from “a number of countries, mostly from Europe”.
Addis Ababa routinely accuses Asmara of supporting a number of Ethiopian separatist groups, and blamed an Afar rebel movement for the kidnapping of five Europeans in the region in 2007.
A German Foreign Ministry spokesman said Berlin was working with the German embassy in Addis Ababa to clarify exactly what had happened.
The only foreigners who normally brave the inhospitable Afar are researchers, a few aid workers and adventure tourists visiting geographical wonders such as the Danakil Depression, one of the hottest places on earth with its ancient salt mines and volcanoes.
A German media report said the group of tourists had been close to the Erta Ale volcano, one of Ethiopia’s most active.
Germany’s Foreign Ministry carries a travel warning on its website alerting German nationals to banditry and other dangers in the area around the volcano.
It would be hard to find a better symbol of media repression in Africa than Eskinder Nega. The veteran Ethiopian journalist and dissident blogger has been detained at least seven times by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government over the past two decades, and was put back in jail on September 14, 2011, after he published a column calling for the government to respect freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and to end torture in prisons.
Eskinder now faces terrorism charges, and if convicted could face the death sentence. He’s not alone: Ethiopia currently has seven journalists behind bars. More journalists have fled Ethiopia over the past decade than any other country in the world, according to CPJ.
Eskinder could easily have joined them. In February 2011, he was briefly detained by federal police and warned to stop writing critical stories about Ethiopia’s authoritarian regime. The message was clear: it’s time to leave. Eskinder spent part of his childhood in the Washington D.C. area, and could have returned to the U.S.
He didn’t. Instead he continued to publish online columns demanding an end to corruption and political repression and calling for the security forces not to shoot unarmed demonstrators (as they did in 2005) in the event the Arab Spring spread to Ethiopia. That’s landed him back in jail–where he could remain for years in the event he avoids a death sentence.
Since then a group of journalists, authors and rights activists have organized a petition calling for the release of Eskinder and other journalists unjustly detained by Ethiopia’s government. Among the signatories are the heads of the U.S. National Press Club, the Open Society Foundations, Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists.
The petitioners also include Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist jailed by the Iranian government for four months in 2009; three former BBC correspondents in Ethiopia; development economist William Easterly; the Christian Science Monitor’s Marshall Ingwerson and others.
The campaign also included a letter published in The New York Review of Books, contacts with the U.S. State Department, press releases, and media interviews. Still, making an impact is difficult. Eskinder was just one of 179 journalists jailed worldwide as of December 1, 2011, according to CPJ data. In addition, Ethiopia is viewed as a strategic partner for the West in combating terrorism and instability in East Africa, making Western governments less likely to press Zenawi on human rights abuses.
People have asked me why we should try to help someone who could have saved himself by fleeing the country. It’s a good question. I suspect that even if he were to be released tomorrow, Eskinder would stay in Ethiopia and continue writing and publishing online–at the risk of being thrown back in jail.
After all, this is a reporter whose wife, journalist Serkalem Fasil, gave birth while they were both in jail following the 2005 elections. When they were released in 2007, Serkalem and Eskinder were banned from reopening their newspapers. To survive, they rented their house in central Addis Ababa to a team of Chinese telecom workers and moved to a poor neighborhood on the outskirts of the city.
Like many good journalists, Eskinder is stubborn to a fault. Standing for free speech in Ethiopia can seem a Sisyphean task, but if Eskinder is principled enough to risk more years in jail – and possibly the death sentence – it’s our obligation to stand with him.
Jason McLure was Bloomberg News correspondent in Ethiopia from 2007 to 2010.
Dear Ludger Schadomsky,
I read your open letter to Ethiomedia with a great deal of interest. I appreciate some of the points you have made referring to the nature and conduct of the regime in Ethiopia that has severely curtailed freedom of expression in contravention of the letters of its own constitution and international conventions.
That said, you told us that you were disillusioned, dumfounded, flabbergasted, outraged and suffered harassment and mudslinging just because legitimate concerns have been on the way you manage Deutsche Welle (DW) Amharic. Your letter, splashed with unnecessary adjectives, gives the impression that you are beyond reproach and people who have credible allegations were only interested in defaming you and DW.
I do not personally believe that DW has been a mouthpiece of the current “government” of Ethiopia. As someone who has grown up listening to DW and VOA Amharic services, I have never known these broadcasts to serve as a propaganda output for Ethiopia’s oppressive regimes, during the time of the military junta as well as the current repressive regime. But that does not mean that DW is immune from pressure by the Meles regime that is obsessively campaigning to shut down any critical views. Whether DW budges to the pressures or not as an institution is another matter, but the declining quality and the dwindling coverage on Ethiopia is quite evident.
As I do not know anyone who has alleged that DW is a mouthpiece of the Meles regime, I prefer not to dwell on this matter as much as you did. I am sure this is a side issue that might be selected to sidetrack us from the major concerns being raised. But I can point out the fact that DW is not an independent media outlet set up to serve the interests of the Ethiopian people. Far from it, its primary objective, as clearly stated in its statutory mission, is rather to “promote understanding of Germany as an independent nation with its roots in European culture and as a liberal, democratic, constitutional state based on the rule of law.”
While you tried to assert that DW Amharic is an independent media outlet serving the people of Ethiopia for half a century, you have also availed yourself of the opportunity to make a few misleading insinuations. I was surprised to see that you mixed facts with fiction and resorted to conspiracy theory rather than dealing with the allegations made against you as the director and editor-in-chief of DW Amharic service.
“There is, of course, another possible explanation: that the wool is being pulled over our eyes by a group of media wits who are busy promoting their own business agenda under the guise of investigative journalism. Can I really be the only one to find it strange that the publication of a series of mud-slinging articles about Voice of America (VoA) and Deutsche Welle (DW), timed to appear almost simultaneously, was driven by an executive of an ambitious media company currently eyeing the Ethiopian radio market?”
Yes, I am sure you are the only one to see through this grand conspiracy.
As you have failed to name this unruly media wits that pull over wool over your eyes, the “media executive” and the company eying for the Ethiopian radio market, I cannot defend these unnamed individuals and media company that wants to bankrupt competitors. In all honesty, these colorful descriptions appear to come out more from the figment of your imagination than the reality that you and me know quite well.
The serious allegations made against you had nothing to do with your fanciful conspiracy theory. Without repeating the case that has been widely reported, let me remind you a story that you might have forgotten. There was this young journalist who came all the way to Germany as an intern at DW, who was later retained as to work under you. This journalist only found a situation that was worse than the predicament that Ethiopian maids have to face in the Middle East. His hope turned into despair. I still have the many emails you have exchanged with him. You never heeded his poignant appeals and appeared to care little to the ordeals he was facing in the middle of Bonn. This is a fact you chose not to address in your open letter.
The journalist is called Mesay Mekonnen, currently manager of ESAT radio. I am very proud of this colleague of mine as he has proved himself to be a competent broadcaster. Mesay does not need a translator to do his job. He knows what he does. The media executive who let down this fellow Ethiopian is called Ludger Shadomsky, currently editor-in-chief of DW Amharic service but who never speaks the Amharic broadcasts he is assigned to “edit” and manage. This was the truth that I reported based on hard to refute facts.
Before I wrote the story that has clearly upset you, I contacted you on at least six occasions by phone and email. I can publish the details of our discussions, if you wish. On one occasion, you even hang up on me when I asked you to answer a few questions based on the allegations leveled against you and the evidence that I had gathered. I do not understand how this is linked to the Ethiopian “radio market”. VOA has at least tried to address the issues raised. The assurances that Mr. Steve Redisch, the then acting director, gave was a much better approach than taking a long time off to concoct wild conspiracy theories.
As far as DW Amharic is concerned, it is no longer my kind of broadcaster that I crave to listen to daily. While I acknowledge the fact that it has a great deal of resources at its disposal, its broadcasting quality is steadily declining and the coverage on Ethiopia is dwindling. I believe this is a reality that anyone can easily check.
Let me point out a glaring contradiction in what you teach and practice. In your open letter, you claimed:
“I would like to go on record as saying that we at DW Amharic neither bow to pressure from the government of Ethiopia, nor give in to the increasingly outrageous demands made by radicalized opposition figures and organizations.”
This flies in the face of an email you circulated to DW Amharic staffers last year.
“You will be well aware of the close monitoring of the Ethiopian government of any activities by our staff members perceived to be ‘opposition activities’. I have a number of names thrown at me by Berekt Simon every time I am in Addis. To spell it out very clearly: Ethiomedia – and similar sites by extension – is NOT a site where I want to see our correspondents displayed with opinion articles! The amount of hatred splashed across that particular medium is a disgrace to any politically sober mind.”
You had insisted that there were no outside influence on you and DW. But Bereket Simon was in your mind when you issued such an amazing decree that undermines freedom of expression that you were supposed to espouse and defend.
If writing opinion pieces for Ethiomedia and other similar sites is a cardinal sin, why then have you chosen this time to publish your patronizing view on the very media you have declared to be untouchable? Isn’t that a case of double standard?
You have also gone to the extent of telling us that referring to the regime in Ethiopia as “the fascist Weyane regime” is a horrible hate speech. People hate tyranny in every shape and form. Ethiopians can call their government whatever they think is appropriate. They know better whether the people ruling them are fascistic or humanistic. No judgment please, Mr. Schadomsky!
Finally, Ethiopians deserve to have media outlets that have no vested interests other than serving them with utmost passion and integrity. As far as I know, there is no threatening competition in Ethiopia’s media landscape which is still dominated by the regime’s propaganda. I am certain that Deutsche Welle and other foreign media outlets will continue to remain relevant despite the evident internal and external pressures they face.
For the record, I firmly believe that ESAT is a media outlet that provides news and information 24/7 by Ethiopians and for Ethiopians. The time to wait for others to report our stories truthfully has already elapsed. We report what we like. ESAT is the Voice of Ethiopia. I am certain about that.
Please write again soon. I guarantee you a quick reply.
Ethiomedia.com – An African-American news and views website.
Mauritanian authorities have exposed a Mossad network in the country involved in the assassination of Hamas official Mahmoud Mabhouh and the outburst of the Ethiopian plane in Lebanon where a Hezbollah target was on board.
[Editor's note - please refer to Ethiomedia's warning last year.]
According to Al-Huriyeh (Freedom) Mauritanian newspaper, the Mauritanian authorities have exposed the network in which businessmen and activists from different Arab nationalists work.
The sources indicated that members recruited by the Israeli espionage network were captured after pursuing them and monitoring their suspicious activities.
The espionage network was revealed after the police arrested an agent, named as Fares al-Banna, who was recruited by a tourism agency.
The police found documents with the suspect, including a letter addressed to the Emirati embassy in Mauritania, in which he confirmed he is ready to confess information related to the assassination of [Palestinian figure Mahmoud] Mabhouh in Dubai, and the explosion of the Ethiopian plane in Lebanon. The suspect also vowed in the letter that he would reveal detailed information about an Israeli espionage network in Mauritania.
The daily stated that the Mauritanian authorities have opened an investigation on the issue in order to pursue details in this case.
Washington DC (ESAT)–The Oromo Liberation Front has announced its historic decision to drop its long-held secessionist agenda and to embrace the unity of Ethiopia under a genuine federal arrangement that must guarantee the rights, equality and liberty of all Ethiopians.
In a historic press release, the OLF, led by Brigadier General Kemal Gelchu, issued at the conclusion of its extraordinary National Council plenary, held on December 30 and 31 in Minnesota, the front spelt out its new vision in an unprecedented clarity. The meeting was also open to any non-Oromo Ethiopians for the first time.
According to the press release, the OLF National Council has examined the struggle of the Oromo people, the political program of the front, the prevailing conditions that the Ethiopian people suffer under the dictatorship of Meles Zenewi and the necessity of working with all democratic forces in Ethiopian to end the untold misery of Ethiopians under the tyrannical regime.
“The OLF National Council also focused on the timely demand of working with other democratic forces in forming the new Ethiopia that will guarantee and protect the fundamental rights of all peoples in Ethiopia. The new social contract will and should be based on the free will and consent of all peoples in Ethiopia. The previous style that claims “I know for you” should be abolished and replaced with a new vision that is based on peoples’ consent and free will,” the release stated.
The historic statement further noted that OLF would struggle not only for the Oromo people but also the people of Ethiopia suffering under the tyranny and oppression of the TPLF regime. “To fulfill this vision and play crucial roles, not only for the Oromo people, but for all Ethiopian people, the OLF National Council pursuant to the power vested to it by the OLF National Congress effectively amended the OLF political program today, January 1, 2012,” the front said.
The release underscored the fact that the revised OLF political program will “accept the new federal democratic republic of Ethiopia that will work for the betterment of all of its citizens, neighboring countries and international communities.” It also said that the OLF would honor and respect the decisions of the Ethiopian people would make exercising their will under the new federal republic of Ethiopia.
OLF also urged all democratic forces to work in tandem to make Ethiopia a common home for all its people. It also called on the international community to desist from supporting the tyrannical regime of Meles Zenawi that is “engaged in terrorizing the Ethiopian people, selling the precious resources of the country to the highest bidders, and the government that does not respect the principles of democracy, human rights and rule of law.”
In an interview with ESAT Radio, Dr. Nuro Dedefo, OLF Executive Committee member, has explained that the front has charted out a new vision based on the reality on the ground. He said the new vision of the OLF aspires to liberate the Ethiopian people from the brutal minority rule of the TPLF and establish a new democratic Ethiopia based on the free will of the people to live, work and set up a common country for all. He pointed out that previously OLF used to advocate for the establishment of an Oromo state. As per its new vision, OLF now aspires to establish one country with other Ethiopians, he explained.
Dr. Nuro also underscored that OLF rejects the bogus federal arrangement that has imposed the hegemony of the TPLF on the rest of Ethiopia. According to Dr. Nuro, the OLF wants a real and genuine federal system which clearly shows that OLF broken with the past and embraced Ethiopian unity. “In order to change the racist minority rule of the TPLF and form a new Ethiopia that will be free from absence of the rule of law and rampant abuse of citizens… OLF is ready to work with all Ethiopian democratic forces,” he declared.
He noted that TPLF’s so-called federal arrangement has been designed to divide and rule the people of Ethiopia and impose its hegemony using its servile puppets and messengers. Dr. Nuro has underlined that that OLF’s new vision will put an end to TPLF’s propaganda against OLF, which it tried to present as a secessionist force. “That will put the scheme in the coffin once and for all,” he said.
The OLF official also called upon fellow Ethiopians to work with the OLF in a spirit of trust in order to establish the new Ethiopia, where democracy, justice, respect for human rights and rule of law will be the founding values.
Dr. Nuro told ESAT that the meeting, which was also open for non-Oromo Ethiopians, was exciting to so many Ethiopians that have already endorsed OLF’s new vision that it adopted to end dictatorship, suffering and lawlessness in Ethiopia once and for all in collaboration with any democratic forces.
The Swedes jailed in Ethiopia
Journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson received yesterday his imprisonment timed to 11 years. In Stockholm and other European cities have it when, last week talked about strategies to secure their release as soon as possible. For many observers, it is just a waste of time to appeal. Sure, this approach requires a genuine acceptance of reality, rather than relying on empty hope. On the other hand, it is not certain that those who oppose appeals understands the logic of the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
The last 20 years of experience shows that there is a common denominator behind Meles Zenawis all documents and non-documents: to stay in power. The favorite among his suppression techniques are to surprise. The more he feels threatened by his opponents, critics and even the donors, the more he wants to surprise. Nothing has ever surprised his Western supporters and critics as much as his accusations of terrorism against the two Swedish journalists.
Times of political crisis and impending popular pressure, Meles Zenawi to fight back. He must keep his opponents as surprised as possible, by whatever means. Terrorism charges against Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson can be viewed in that light.
Since 2011 he has initiated a kind of witch trials to combat the carriers of the “virus” has begun to spread from North Africa. The opposition on the home front and abroad have united against his regime, while inflation has risen to 40 percent and the corruption and repression have pushed people to the utmost. The open and covert support from the West in the Arab spring worried Meles Zenawi and other African dictators. A lot went against him. It was high time to surprise everyone involved and show who’s boss.
In order to surprise the local opposition was carried out mass arrests of the two largest regions, Oromia and Amhara in the beginning of the year. Then came the terrorist accusations only against the leaders of the only viable coalition, Medrek, then against journalists. Few, however, had been expected that Meles Zenawi would surprise by playing the terrorism card.
The last party to be surprised where aid agencies in Addis Ababa. The Prime Minister urged them open to keep your hands away from democracy and law in Ethiopia. To show he meant business, he saw to get the Slovakian ambassador isolated a few days in early November.
Such a thing must not happen without senior officials informed. Yet the prime minister responsible for local government. The Slovak ambassador allegedly “walked around town without papers”. What a funny episode! An Ethiopian police officer who does not allow an ambassador to call a friend who can get his “ID” is hard to find. Surprise!
For Meles Zenawi was Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson immediately considered to be angels. With them, he could surprise the West with the greater shock. Everything that took place after the arrests follow a carefully written script.
How long they remain in Ethiopia is due to two factors: the amount of pressure that Sweden and other exercise, and the amount of surprise that Meles Zenawi considers necessary to keep the West as “hostages”.
While it may seem like a waste of time to appeal against Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, no one knows if Meles Zenawi is able to surprise us in a higher court. Nor do we know how long it would take for Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye to be free from “amnesty” because it also depends on the prime minister’s will.
Which way you choose is the introduction of Meles Zenawi. He reigns, he is arrested, he blames, he judges, he pardons.
Mesfin Negash, asylum seekers Ethiopian journalist in Sweden. Was editor of the independent newspaper Addis Neger, which closed in 2009 after several of its staff went into exile, and charged himself recently in absentia for terrorism.
Transl. Sverker Lenas
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The terrorist convicted Swedish journalist Martin Schubbye, 31, and Johan Persson, 29, was eleven years of imprisonment. This was decided by the Ethiopian court today. Earlier in the morning reported that prosecutors would appeal the ruling, but it was a misunderstanding, interpretation, says Johan Persson’s father Kjell.
- The task is not true, I have been told now, he says to DN.se.
Prosecutors may try the case in the Supreme Court if they are dissatisfied with the punishment was only eleven years fägelse – the lowest possible according to prosecutors’ sentencing.
They had applied for the maximum penalty 18.5 years in prison for illegal entry into the country in order to give “moral support” to the terror stamped ONLF guerrillas and support of terrorist activities.
Judge Shimsu Surgaga rejected the claim on the maximum penalty 18.5 years in prison on the grounds that they were not punished in the past and their social situation, reports a local journalist working for DN.se from the courtroom when the news came on Tuesday morning.
The Swedes got one year in prison for illegal entry and ten years imprisonment for the support of terrorist activities.
- I will meet with the Swedes on Thursday in the prison. Then we’ll decide whether to appeal or ask for mercy, says lawyer Seleshi Kersela to DN.se.
He is one of the Swedes’ three defenders who now have to decide on the verdict for illegal entry and support of the terror stamped gerilagruppen ONLF will be appealed to the Ethiopian Supreme Court. Such a process can take up to two years.
Kjell Persson, who along with other relatives met the Swedes in jail last Friday, believes that the Swedes want to wait further. The reflection period is 15 days, ie until 10 January.
- Martin and John is about to bring up the pluses and minuses to both options. It is not clear how they should behave, and they want as much information as possible before making his decision, says Kjell Persson.
The alternative is the most probable is that the Swedes are asking for the grace of Prime Minister Meles Zebawi and hope for a political process in which diplomatic pressure on Ethiopia from the U.S. and the EU can play a role.
The Swedish Ambassador Jens Odlander left the courtroom without giving kommemtarer, just as after the announcement last week that the Swedes were found guilty of the crimes. Since then he has not given any comment, but referred to the Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.
Last Thursday, the day after the decision, the U.S. came with a stern statement from the State Department in Washington to demand that the Swedes would be released. For the EU it was not until last Friday before a similar statement was made.
According to Frederick Nails, consular chief at the Swedish Embassy in Addis Ababa, has an “intense work” going on since sentencing on Wednesday to political means to free the Swedes.
At the Foreign Ministry in Stockholm to State Secretary Frank Belfrage possibly comment on the case later today.
Mats J. Larsson
matsj.larsson @ dn.se
International Journalists, Writers, Rights Activists Protest Terrorism Charge Against Ethiopian Journalist
News Release | December 23, 2011
Eskinder Nega Dec. 23, 2011 – A broad international group of journalists, writers and human rights activists today called for the Ethiopian government to unconditionally release journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega, imprisoned since Sept. 14 on terrorism charges that carry a maximum sentence of death.
The petition’s signatories include Mark Hamrick, president of the 3,500-member National Press Club based in Washington, D.C.; Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Foundations; Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch and William Easterly, a New York University economics professor and author of the bestselling book “The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Harm and So Little Good.”
In an open letter to Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Minister of Government Communication Affairs Bereket Simon and Justice Minister Berhan Hailu, the petitioners expressed concern about reports that Eskinder is at risk of abuse in prison and called for the government to end its use of terrorism laws to silence the press.
“We urge the Ethiopian government to unconditionally release Eskinder and other journalists unjustly detained; to ensure that he and others are treated humanely; to halt the use of anti-terrorism laws to prosecute journalists; and to fully defend the rights of the press outlined by Ethiopia’s constitution and international agreements,” the petition says.
About Eskinder Nega
Eskinder Nega is a prominent Ethiopian journalist arrested in September of 2011 under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009. Just prior to his arrest, Eskinder had published an online column critical of the use of the terrorism law to silence dissent and calling for the Ethiopian government to respect freedom of expression and end torture in the country’s prisons. Eskinder is a journalist and dissident blogger who espouses non-violence. He now faces charges with a maximum penalty of death.
Previous to his current arrest, Eskinder and his wife Serkalem Fasil, both newspaper publishers, spent 17 months in jail after being charged with treason following Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 elections, along with dozens of journalists, human rights activists and opposition leaders. While in custody, Serkalem gave birth to their first child. Even after they were acquitted by Ethiopia’s Federal High Court, Eskinder and Serkalem were blocked from reopening their newspapers and the government continued to pursue civil charges against them.
Eskinder was detained earlier this year, after he published an online column asking members of the security services not to shoot unarmed demonstrators – as they did in 2005 – in the event the ‘Arab spring’ should spread to Ethiopia.
The letter’s signatories also include Marshall Ingwerson; managing editor of the Christian Science Monitor; Maziar Bahari, the Newsweek journalist jailed by the Iranian government for 118 days in 2009; former Ethiopia-based BBC correspondents Elizabeth Blunt, Nita Bhalla and Alice Martin; Anya Schiffrin, director of the media and communications program at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs; John Ryle, professor of anthropology at Bard College; Helen Epstein, author of “The Invisible Cure, Why We Are Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa” and The New York Review’s “Cruel Ethiopia,”; Lonnie Isabel, director of the international reporting program at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism; Ben Rawlence, senior researcher in the Africa division of Human Rights Watch and a co-author of “Development Without Freedom: How Aid Underwrites Repression in Ethiopia,”; Tom Rhodes, East Africa consultant for the Committee to Protect Journalists and former Bloomberg News correspondent in Ethiopia Jason McLure.
Previously, a number of press freedom and human rights groups, including PEN/International, Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International and the International Federation of Journalists have called for Eskinder’s release.
Additional information about Eskinder’s case can be obtained online at www.FreeEskinderNega.com*.
New York Review of Books letter
A separate letter about Eskinder’s case, published in the new issue of the New York Review of Books dated January 12 and signed by Mark Hamrick, president of the National Press Club; Aryeh Neier, president of the Open Society Foundation; Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists; Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch; and William Easterly, professor of economics at New York University, notes that Ethiopia tops Iran and Cuba to lead the world in the number of journalists who have fled into exile over the past decade and calls for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and America’s Western allies to publicly repudiate Ethiopia’s efforts to use terrorism laws to silence political dissent and to take steps to ensure that aid money does not foster political repression. The New York Review is America’s leading biweekly book review and journal of intellectual events.
Committee to Free Eskinder Nega media contact: Jason McLure +1 202 370 6905 or FreeEskinderNega@gmail.com
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