ADDIS ABABA | Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:10am EDT
(Reuters) – An Ethiopian court on Friday sentenced a prominent blogger to 18 years in jail and five other exiled journalists to prison terms ranging from eight years to life behind bars for conspiring with rebels to topple the government, the presiding judge said.
Dissident writer Eskinder Nega was one of 24 Ethiopians who were convicted last month of conspiring with rebels to overthrow the government. It was the third case in six months involving members of the media.
“The court has given due considerations to the charges and the sentences are appropriate,” Judge Endeshaw Adane said.
Ethiopian journalists sentenced to heavy prison terms for ‘terrorism’
New York, July 13, 2012 – The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns the harsh prison sentences issued by Ethiopia’s High Court today for blogger Eskinder Nega and five independent journalists on vague and politically motivated terrorism charges.
“As Ethiopia hosts the African Union Summit, where regional leaders discuss important security challenges, the Ethiopian government is using the fight against terrorism as a cover to silence peaceful voices of dissent,” said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita. “This sentence makes clear that Ethiopia’s growth and stability is dependent on an iron fist from a leadership intolerant of critical reporting or journalists seeking public accountability.”
Since 2011, the government of Ethiopia has convicted 11 independent journalists and bloggers under a sweeping antiterrorism law. Eskinder Nega has been jailed in Ethiopia since September 2011, while the other defendants are living in exile.