Nairobi, July 18, 2014–An Ethiopian court charged nine Ethiopian journalists arrested in April with inciting violence and terrorism, according to local journalists and news reports. The nine arrested include six bloggers from an independent collective called Zone 9, which publishes critical news and commentary.
“Expressing critical views is not a terrorist act. Once again, the Ethiopian government is misusing anti-terrorism legislation to suppress political dissent and intimidate journalists,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “We call on Ethiopian authorities to release all journalists who have been imprisoned for doing their jobs.”
On April 25 and 26, authorities arrested the nine journalists–editor Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, freelancers Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye, and bloggers Abel Wabella, Atnaf Berhane, Mahlet Fantahun, Natnail Feleke, Zelalem Kibret, and Befekadu Hailu–and accused them of working with foreign human rights groups and using social media to create instability in the country. Authorities have held the journalists for more than 80 days without charge, beyond the maximum period allowed under the terrorism law, according to news reports. Since 2009, when the anti-terror law was implemented, the Ethiopian government has used the sweeping legislation to imprison more than a dozen critical journalists, according to CPJ research.