Commenting on breaking news from Ethiopia that journalist and Amnesty International prisoner of conscience Eskinder Nega will be among 746 prisoners released as part of a government pardon, Sarah Jackson, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes, said: “It is wonderful news that this brave journalist will soon walk to freedom after seven years spent in jail simply for doing his job. He should not have spent a single day behind bars.
“But the world must not lose sight of the thousands of other people still languishing in jail on trumped up and politically-motivated terrorism charges, including Bekele Gerba, Addisu Bulala, Woubshet Taye. All prisoners of conscience must be released immediately and unconditionally and compensated for the grave injustices done to them.”
At the time of his arrest, Eskinder was editor of the Satanaw newspaper. He was arrested after publishing an article about the Arab Spring in which he asked whether a similar grassroots movement for democracy could take hold in Ethiopia. He was charged under the draconian Anti-Terrorism Proclamation with providing support for terrorists and sentenced to 18 years in prison. He has been held in Addis Ababa’s infamous Kality prison where 8,000 inmates are held in cramped, dilapidated and poorly ventilated cells.
Also to be released with Eskinder is opposition politician Andualem Aragie, who was serving a life sentence, also on trumped-up terrorism charges.