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Ethiopia13 March 2006

Pregnant journalist freed after one month in prison

Online journalist Frezer Negash was released from prison on the evening of 9 March and all charges against her were dropped. She was freed two days after her third appearance before a judge, at which her lawyer requested her provisional release. She was arrested on 27 January.

A government opponent and correspondent for the US-based news website Ethiopian Review, Negash is four months’ pregnant. She was examined by a doctor after leaving prison and appears to have suffered no ill-effects.

22.03.2006 New adjournment in case of online journalist Frezer Negash

Reporters Without Borders said it was shocked at the continued detention of online journalist Frezer Negash, without any charge being made against her. She is three-months pregnant.

“The illegal detention of this young woman is continuing without any reasons being produced. This is an intolerable situation and calls for the intervention of the Ethiopian authorities,” the press freedom organisation said.

Negash was arrested on 27 January 2006, and went before a judge for the second time on 21 February 2006. He again extended her time in custody until 7 March to allow police time to continue their investigations.

She was allowed to see her family, on 19 February, for the first time since her imprisonment. He lawyer is seeking her conditional release.

08.02.2006 Pregnant online journalist held for 13 days without being charged

Reporters Without Borders today criticised Ethiopian authorities for "illegally" holding online journalist Frezer Negash for the past 13 days without charging her with any crime.

"No civilised state can tolerate such detention without trial," it said,"and this denial of justice is even more deplorable because she is three months pregnant."

The journalist was arrested on 27 January and appeared in court on 6 February, but no charges against her were announced and she was remanded in custody until 21 February "for further enquiries." She has not been allowed visits from her family and only her lawyer has been able to see her.

03.02.2006 Authorities asked to explain why online journalist has been held for past week

Reporters Without Borders today called on the Ethiopian authorities to explain why they have been holding Frezer Negash, a member of the opposition and a correspondent for the US news website Ethiopian Review, for the past week. Negash is three months pregnant.

“This new arrest once again shows that the Ethiopian authorities cannot stand their political opponents expressing their views in the media or on the Internet,” the press freedom organisation said. “As no official charge has been brought against Negash, we consider her detention to be arbitrary.”

Negash is being held at Maikelawi police station in Addis Ababa. According to the Ethiopian Review, the police searched her home on the day of her arrest, confiscating a computer, a camera and various documents. She is supposed to appear before a judge on 6 February to be told of the charges against her. Her lawyer was able to visit her on 1 February but he has not been told why his client was arrested. The authorities limited themselves to telling him that she was being held while the police pursue their enquiries.

Negash ran as an independent candidate in last May’s parliamentary elections. At total of 15 journalists have been imprisoned in Ethiopia in the past three months.

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