Ethiopia releases journalist, politician, drops blogger charges

Ethiopia releases journalist, politician, drops blogger charges

Ethiopia released a jailed opposition leader and journalist on Wednesday and dropped charges against a group of bloggers in a wave of prisoner releases and pardons.

An AFP videographer said politician Andualem Arage and journalist Eskinder Nega left a prison in the capital Addis Ababa before a crowd of about 100 supporters.

“The struggle must continue. Better things should come for all of us, and a bright sunshine of democracy must shine in Ethiopia,” said Andualem, who was serving a life sentence on accusations of links to the banned Ginbot 7 group.

The case of Andualem and Eskinder, who was given an 18-year sentence on the same allegation, has attracted condemnation from rights groups and Ethiopia’s ally the United States.

Their release comes amid a string of pardons and prisoner releases that began last month, after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the government would release jailed “politicians” in order “to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform”.

– Shameful miscarriage of justice –

“We are pleased that Eskinder Nega is finally free since his arrest and conviction was a shameful miscarriage of justice,” the Committee to Protect Journalists Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal said.

“We now urge the Ethiopian government to drop charges against other journalists and to implement the reforms needed for a free press to flourish.”

Separately, prosecutors dropped charges against two bloggers from the Zone 9 website and said they would withdraw the case against a third, bringing to an end a prosecution that has been denounced as an attack on press freedom.

“The judge says they have dropped charges,” blogger Atnafu Berhane told AFP.

Prosecutors withdrew allegations of inciting violence against bloggers Befekadu Haile and Natnael Feleke, Atnafu said.

He added that his own charge, also of inciting violence, wasn’t dropped because of a courtroom error, but that he expects it to be withdrawn on Friday.

Zone 9 took their name from the term reportedly used by prisoners of an Addis Ababa jail, which has eight zones.

The ninth refers to the rest of the country — where civic liberties are also in short supply, according to government critics.

Six Zone 9 bloggers were arrested in April 2014 as part of a wider crackdown in the East African country.

Two were released in July of the following year, while the remaining four were charged with terrorism alongside another blogger, Soleyana Gebremichael, who was tried in absentia as she was living in exile in the United States.

While the five were eventually acquitted, prosecutors last year won permission from Ethiopia’s Supreme Court to retry Natnael and Atnafu on new charges, while Befekadu was also tried separately.

While welcoming the end of the prosecution, Atnafu said reforms were needed to protect bloggers like himself.

/Daily mail/

1 COMMENT

  1. Hey little tiger!!!! Daddy is comig home!!!!! Daddies are coming home!!!! What am I talking about? Daddies are home!!!! Hug your daddy now and don’t let it go!!!!

    Even at this age, all I can say is yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehaw!!!!!!! Now, valkyrie!!! Sing it hun!!!! Sing it sweetheart, sing it!!!! Now, let Obbo Andargachew come home to his kids too!!! All other political prisoners should be part of the release!!!

    Then the healing should begin in earnest for the prosecuted and their families. The realities on the ground are right there for anyone who is willing to see and recognize. The country has reached to a watershed which cannot be cooked up and bastardized to benefit the few currently on top. This release of political prisoners is long time coming just because the entire world has been telling the ruler there to let them all goo free with strings attached. I said ‘the entire world’ because no one outside the well fed running rabid operatives of the regime had come out justifying the incarcerations of the prisoners. Day, weeks, months and years went by where the despots kept thumbing their noses at the entire world even though they kept being warned about the consequences. Then, came the storm in 2016. The response was mass killings and imprisonments. Then more storms kept going in 2017 and this time spreading like fires in the plains. The response was the same, more killings and mass incarcerations. But the storm at this time has proven itself to be unstoppable. The two pillars of the country, Oromos and Amharas, have come into solidarity with each other’s struggle and sacrifice and are been seen so committed to make their protest worth dying for. They are not going back to their homes empty handed after losing so many of their loved ones. You see. Human life is the most sacred and intricate creation of The Almighty. You just cannot chop it down like watercress from Whole Foods. But despots remain despots until they are thought a sore lesson. They are autocrats through and through that they don’t care what the rest of the world thinks about them. The jails are still full of political prisoners mostly Oromos and our noble neighbors Amharas. I just heard from the source that Obbo Bekele and others like him have given eye witness account that the jails in the capital and others nearby are filled with citizens from Gondar areas hundreds of miles away from their loved ones. That amounts to creating a new Prison of St-Laurent-du-Maroni located in Addis(Finfine). Even though I welcome the release of Obbo Bekele, Eskinder and their fellow political prisoners, I take it just as a chump change in light of tens of thousands still behind bars for political reasons.

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