Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Ethiopia frees journalist, drops charges

(Aug 29, 2012, The Africa Report)--Ethiopian authorities have freed a journalist who was jailed last Friday and dropped all charges against him. Temesghen Desalegn, editor of Feteh, was arrested last week in connection with articles that appeared in seven editions of the newspaper that criticised the policies of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and reports on the late leader's health condition.

The decision by the Ethiopian Ministry of Justice to release the editor of the leading independent weekly from jail and drop all charges against Mastewal Publishing and Advertising PLC, the company that publishes Feteh, has been welcomed by the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists.

Temesghen faced criminal charges, including defaming the state and inciting people to overthrow the government, while Mastewal was charged with inciting public violence by publishing Feteh, according to one of the charges. It is not yet clear why the charges against Temesghen and Mastewal Publishing were dropped.

Feteh has not been published since July 20, when the government ordered Barhanena Selam, the state-run printing company, not to print the paper. This followed a ministerial block of the distribution of a Feteh edition that displayed a front-page story about the conflicting reports surrounding the illness of the now deceased Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita has urged that Ethiopian government to release a number of journalists imprisoned for their work. "We call on Ethiopian authorities to demonstrate a commitment to freedom of expression by releasing the eight other journalists currently imprisoned for their work and by ending the government's practice of prosecuting journalists who voice dissenting views" said Keita.

Among the eight journalists in prison is independent blogger Eskinder Nega, who has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges of working with a terrorist organisation and inciting anti-government protests.
Source: The Africa Report

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