Nairobi — The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on Ethiopian authorities to release five journalists. Security forces yesterday arrested Eskinder Nega, Temesghen Desalegn, Zone 9 bloggers Befekadu Hailu and Mahlet Fantahun, and Zelalem Workagegnehu, who were gathered at Temesghen's house in Addis Ababa, according to reports and a statement by the Swiss-based Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia. All five have previously been imprisoned for their journalism, according to CPJ research.
Authorities have not publicly disclosed any charges against the journalists. Under the state of emergency Ethiopia declared in February, permission is needed to host large gatherings and authorities can carry out arrests without warrant, according to a report by the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency.
"We call on Ethiopian authorities to disclose what crime they accuse these journalists of committing or release them at once," said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal in New York. "Ethiopia must not use the state of emergency as a pretext to muzzle critical journalists, particularly those who already have suffered unimaginably during previous imprisonments."
The detentions came amid a wider round of arrests in Ethiopia in recent days, according to reports by the Association for Human Rights in Ethiopia and the Addis Standard.