Monday, June 09, 2014

Ethiopian journalist branded a 'terrorist' and locked up for 18 years wins 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom

(Jun 09, 2014, (Press Gazette))--An Ethiopian journalist branded a "terrorist" and currently serving an 18-year prison sentence has been awarded the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom.

Eskinder Nega (pictured) has been jailed on at least seven occasions in his country. On the latest occasion, he was locked up for challenging the laws used against him and speculating that the Arab Spring uprisings could be repeated in Ethiopia. He wrote on these subjects despite already having had his journalism 'licence' taken away from him.

According to a fellow Ethiopian prisoner, Nega "could have chosen an easy life... but the love for the truth, for his country, for his fellow human beings, and for Ethiopia, made him into a journalist". The award, from the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA), was presented today in Turin, Italy, during the opening ceremonies of the 66th World Newspaper Congress, 21st World Editors Forum and the 24th World Advertising Forum.

Presenting the award, World Editors Forum president Erik Bjerager described Nega as a “tenacious writer who has called only for peaceful change and reconciliation” portrayed by the Ethiopian government as “a rabble-rouser bent on fomenting violent revolution”.

He said: “Without abatement, Ethiopia resorts to anti-terrorism legislation to silence opposition and shackle the press. Alarmingly, beyond Ethiopia, countless states around the world are misapplying legislation designed to protect our societies to journalists, bloggers and freedom of expression advocates. Let me be clear: Journalism is not terrorism.” Read more from Press Gazette »

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