Ethiopia: 2 Journalists Given 14-Year Jail Term, Life Sentence For Blogger

Two journalists were on Thursday sentenced to 14 years imprisonment by an Ethiopian judge in connection with their coverage of banned opposition groups, according to news reports.

Eskinder Nega, another Ethiopian blogger, has been imprisoned since September and could be sentenced to death if convicted of similar politicized terrorism charges in connection with his coverage of banned opposition groups.

The Ethiopian journalists Reyot Alemu, columnist for the Amharic-language weekly Fitih, and Woubeshet Taye, deputy editor of Awramba Times, were last week found guilty of participating in a terrorist organization and preparing a terrorist attack.

The presiding Judge Endeshaw Adane gave the verdicts on Thursday.

“The prison sentences for Reeyot Alemu and Woubshet Taye are based on their writings about political dissent. This verdict has little to do with justice,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “We condemn this politicized prosecution designed to cow critical voices into silence and call on the Supreme Court to reverse all the convictions.”

Reacting to the imprisonment, Reporters Without Borders said: “These prison sentences are distressing and cause serious damage to Ethiopia’s image. We strongly hope that this case will be reviewed on appeal. Reyot Alemu and Woubeshet Taye are no criminals and must be released.”

A U.S.-based journalist convicted on politicized terrorism charges in Ethiopia was also sentenced to life in absentia on Thursday.

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