The Federation of African Journalists (FAJ), the African regional organization of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), today expresses its concern regarding the 18-year prison sentence to journalist Eskinder Nega, handed down on Friday, 13 July by Ethiopian court in Addis Ababa.
Eskinkder Nega and 23 opposition figures were found guilty of terrorism related charges on 27 June. Nega, 44, was arrested in September 2011 and accused of supporting US-based political group, Ginbot 7, which is banned in Ethiopia.
The journalist was also accused of provoking "violence", "hate" and encouraging Arab spring revolution to unseat the current government.
"We oppose the sentence and strongly state that the expression of critical opinions should not be criminalised. Prosecution of journalists under anti-terrorism law is unacceptable and we call for an immediate end of its usage," said Omar Faruk Osman, FAJ President.
Since last year, Ethiopian and Swedish journalists were prosecuted under the anti-terrorism law."These convictions and prison sentences are unnecessary, disproportionate, and unjustifiable; they also constitute a form of censorship given their intimidating and chilling effect on the work of journalists," added Osman.
The FAJ delegation which is in Ethiopia to lobby the African Union on the safety and protection of African journalists met Communications Minister of Ethiopia, Bereket Simon and discussed many issues including the incarceration of journalists, self regulation and the Pan African conference on safety of journalists in September, in Addis Ababa.
For more information contact the IFJ: 221 33 867 95 86/87
The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries