Reporters Without Borders hails the release of three newspaper journalists - Addis Zena editor Wosonseged Gebrekidan, Hadar editor Dawit Kebede and Goshu Moges of Lisane Hezeb - who were set free along with some 30 other opposition members on 18 August under a pardon issued by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
“We can only welcome the release of these journalists, who had been imprisoned for about a year and a half,” the press freedom organisation said. “However, it is regrettable that they were set free because this was the prime minister’s wish and not because it had been the outcome of a fair trial. The journalists had to write a letter admitting their guilt.”
Wosonseged and Dawit, who had been in prison since November 2005, were convicted on 30 July of “conspiring to incite disruption of constitutional rule” and were sentenced to four years in prison. Goshu, who was arrested in February 2006, was sentenced on 27 July to 10 years in prison for belonging to an “illegal political organisation.”
Eight other journalists are still held in Ethiopia including Solomon Aregawi of Hadar.
3.08.2007 - Three opposition journalists jailed for up to ten years
Reporters Without Borders today condemned the Ethiopian High Court for sentencing three newspaper journalists to between four and 10 years in prison and said it was disappointed the regime had resumed harsh punishment of media figures.
“The president’s earlier pardoning of four journalists (on 20 July) raised hopes that the disproportionate punishment of journalists was ending. It is disgraceful that the newly-sentenced journalists have to depend on the government’s whim for their release when in fact their right to freedom of expression should be fully recognised,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
Editors Wosonseged Gebrekidan, of the weekly Addis Zena, and Dawit Kebede, of Hadar, had been in prison since November 2005 and were each given four-year sentences this week (30 July) for “conspiracy to subvert the government.” They were arrested after opposition demonstrations against fraud in the 2005 parliamentary elections.
Goshu Moges, of the weekly Lisane Hezeb, was given a 10-year sentence on 27 July for “belonging to an illegal political organisation.” He was arrested in February 2006 after writing an article criticising government harassment of the opposition and journalists.
Twelve journalists arrested in 2005 have been released from prison since April, four of them after a presidential pardon.