- Four more Ethiopian journalists - Dawit Kebede, Wosonseged Gebrekidan , Goshu Moges and Tadios Tantu - have been put behind bars by an Addis Ababa High Court in connection with their coverage of the fatal post-election unrest in 2005.
The sentence followed the waiving of defence by the journalists of the defunct Amharic language weeklies who pleaded guilty thinking they would be accorded state pardon.
Editors of Hadar and Addis Zena - Dawit Kebede and Wosonseged Gebrekidan - were each given four year jail sentences on charges of “inciting and conspiring to commit outrages to the constitutional order," the editors’ former lawyer, Weneawake Ayele, told CPJ.
This ruling followed that of editor Goshu Moges of Lisane Hezeb and freelance columnist Tadios Tantu, who were also accused of similar crimes. Tantu was jailed in February 2006 for “belonging to an illegal political organization.
Moges and Tantu were sentenced to 10 and 15 years in jail, respectively.
Moges was found guilty of issuing public statements critical of the government crackdown on the press and government opponents
“We condemn the harsh criminal penalties falsely linking the activities of four more members of Ethiopia’s beleaguered press corps to deadly violence in 2005,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon.
“We call on the government to drop all prosecutions of journalists in connection with their coverage of the 2005 unrest, in line with its assertion that it is not seeking revenge.”
Local journalists hope the four would soon become beneficiaries of the conditional pardon enjoyed by four other Ethiopian journalists charged with the same crimes.
Ethiopia has been named the world’s worst backslider of press freedom by CPJ this year. The country remains the second biggest prison for journalist in Africa ranking second only to the neighbouring Eritrea.
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