Monday, August 13, 2012

Media restrictions tighten in Ethiopia (By Mohammed Ademo)

(Aug 14, 2012, CJR)--One of the last remaining independent newspapers was recently shuttered by the government. Government charges against one of Ethiopia’s last remaining independent newspaper editors on Friday and a recent forced shutdown of that paper’s presses capped a grim month of media repression in a country already deemed one of the most restrictive in the world by press freedom advocates.

On August 1, 12 days after authorities shuttered Feteh and seized 30,000 printed copies to prevent them from reaching readers, Temesgen Desalegn, the editor of the Amharic language weekly, said the Ethiopian police summoned him for an interrogation. He was charged on three counts: encouraging youth rebellion against the government and its constitution, defamation, and agitating the public by spreading false reports, he wrote in a statement posted (in Amharic) on Facebook.

This latest crackdown on free press in Ethiopia was provoked by reports about Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s health. On July 21, a day after Feteh failed to hit newsstands, Desalegn learned that authorities had put a stop on the paper’s distribution and further publication for printing items that, according to government prosecutor Berhanu Wondemeagegn, were deemed detrimental to the country’s national security.

Feteh’s unseen last edition carried articles about Zenawi’s illness, allegations of power struggles inside the ruling party, and about the growing Ethiopian Muslim protests in the capital, Addis Ababa, Desalegn wrote.

The Ethiopian government, an authoritarian regime and close ally of the United States, has been repeatedly criticized by international rights groups and the UN for instituting draconian laws to stomp out opposition and that nation’s fledgling free press. Read more the original article from CJR Campaign Desk (Weblog) » 

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