The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) condemns the harsh prison sentences issued by Ethiopia’s High Court today for blogger Eskinder Nega and five independent journalists on what it calls "vague and politically motivated terrorism charges".
Court sentenced Eskindir Nega (journalist and blogger) to 18 years of imprisonment, Mesfin Negash and Abiye Teklemariam (excilled Addis Neger newspaper founders and journalists) for 8 years of imprisonment, Abebe Gellaw (exciled journalist who recently confronted prime Minister Meles Zenawi in public ,meeting in the United States) and Abebe Belew for 15 years of imprisonment.
While Ethiopian Satellite Television journalist from Holland, Fasil Yenealem, is sentenced to life.
In addition, the court also sentenced Obang Metho, Tsegaselassie Zelelaie, Wube Robe & Natnael Mekonnen - 18 years of imprisonment.
"As Ethiopia hosts the African Union Summit, where regional leaders discuss important security challenges, the Ethiopian government is using the fight against terrorism as a cover to silence peaceful voices of dissent,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita.
“This sentence makes clear that Ethiopia’s growth and stability is dependent on an iron fist from a leadership intolerant of critical reporting or journalists seeking public accountability.” Since 2011, the government of Ethiopia has convicted 11 independent journalists and bloggers under a sweeping antiterrorism law. Eskinder Nega has been jailed in Ethiopia since September 2011, while the other defendants are living in exile.
Opposition political party members: Andualem Aragie, Birhanu Nega and Andargachew Tsgie are also sentenced to life.