Breaking – Ethiopia Drops Infamous Terrorism Charges Against All Bloggers

zone9By Mahelt Fasil -16 OCTOBER 201 —

Nearly a year and half since they were first arrested charges of terrorism against the five remaining members of Zone9 bloggers were dropped this morning. A federal court in Addis Abeba freed Journalists Tesfalem Wadyes Asmamaw Hailegiorgis and Edom Kassaye as well as members of the blogging collective Zelalem Kibret and Mahlet Fantahun on July 8th.

But the charges were still pending against the remaining five members of zone9. They are Soliana Shimelis, a law professional who is now in exile, Atnaf Berhane, an IT professional, Befeqadu Hailu of St. Mary’s University college, Abel Wabella of Ethiopian Airlines, and Natnail Feleke, a trained economist who was working for the construction and business bank of Ethiopia.

However, the court didn’t acquit Befeqadu from criminal charges of “inciting violence” and has adjourned the case until five days from today to decide on whether the defendant is entitled for bail out.

An unprecedented crackdown by Ethiopia’s security forces on April 24th and 25th 2014 saw the arrest of six independent bloggers writing for Zone9 blog post and three independent journalists.

The subsequent terrorism charges brought against all members of the blogging collective and the three journalists have exposed series of botched trials & have laid bare Ethiopia’s notoriously ineffective judicial system.

Their release this morning brings to an end the twitter hashtag #Freezone9bloggers, one of the most persistent and well organized social media campaigns that mobilized a large portion of Ethiopia’s online community in the last year and half.

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Posted by on October 16, 2015. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

One Response to Breaking – Ethiopia Drops Infamous Terrorism Charges Against All Bloggers

  1. sam

    October 17, 2015 at 6:39 PM

    I just wanted to believe the courts in Ethiopia could interpret the law as written with no regard to politicians’ wishes. When I read some of the bloggers was released , I wanted to believe the court acted in its own free will. But I still have a lingering doubt to believe that to be the case. Were they imprisoned when the government of Ethiopia was in panic? That is for sure. What has changed between now and the time of their arrest? The politic has changed,favoring the ruling party immensely. The government “claimed” to have won all parliamentary seats in the last election, making Ethiopia practically a one party system. The opposition parties keep growing in political immaturity. Why the need to keep the bloggers in prison after all. Even for an Ethiopian government that considers written words as lethal weapons, keeping the bloggers in prison might make a little sense as it made a year and half ago. The government might not mind of them being free. Did the court act because of knowing that the ruling party might not be in panic mood again? I feel that to be the case. Here is the problem. When the court makes a decision that the government has a political interest in its outcome, the court should respect the law more than the politicians’ wishes. Had that been the case the bloggers would have been freed a week after theirs arrest. The case the government “has created” against them has not changed. Only time has changed. When the Ethiopian government is in panic it keeps Ethiopians in prison until the politics shape to its favor? If the answer is yes, it is doubtful to believe the court decided their release in its own free will.