Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Vigil in DC honors Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega

(Sept 19, 2012, CPJ)-Writer, journalist, blogger, and free speech activist Eskinder Nega, the 2012 recipient of PEN American Center's Freedom to Write Award, lived in Washington, D.C., before returning to his native Ethiopia to start one of the country's first-ever independent newspapers.

On Friday, Eskinder was back in D.C.--not physically, but as the subject of a candlelight vigil at the African American Civil War Memorial that commemorated the first anniversary of the blogger's arrest and sent the message that those jailed for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of speech are never forgotten.

This is Eskinder's ninth imprisonment in 21 years while reporting the news in Ethiopia, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The most recent charges against him include involvement in "terrorism"--a grave charge that prosecutors backed with a YouTube video of a public meeting where he had discussed the implications of the Arab Spring in Ethiopia.

The government charged him under the country's anti-terrorism law--the same legislation he had criticized in a column five days before his arrest. In the column, Eskinder had expressed his indignation at the imprisonment of 73-year-old actor Debebe Eshetu on terrorism charges and noted that dozens of political dissidents and a handful of independent journalists jailed with him did not fit the profile of terrorists. Read more from Committee Protect Journalists »

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