Kenya Protests Ethiopia's Detention of Journalist Yassin Juma

10 August 2020

Nairobi on Monday protested Ethiopia's continued detention of Yassin Juma, a Kenyan journalist freed by the courts in Addis Ababa last week.

In a protest note seen by the Nation, Kenya's Ambassador to Ethiopia Catherine Mwangi said the continued detention, in spite of the court order, was distressing Mr Juma's family back home.

Mr Juma, whose real name is Collins Osemo Juma, was on August 5 freed on bail by the court at Arada sub-city.

A higher court upheld the bail conditions two days later.

However, police who had been detaining the journalist since he was arrested early in July were still holding him on Monday.

"The embassy notes with concern that he has still not been released and that this is causing him and his family a lot of distress," the ambassador wrote in a letter to the Ethiopian Foreign Ministry.

Bail

Mr Juma, arrested alongside two other Ethiopian journalists, was ordered to pay $85.

The Kenyan diplomat says his lawyer Tuli Bayissa already processed the bail and that the judge subsequently signed the release.

On his fourth appearance in court last week, police requested more time to detain Mr Juma and complete investigations.

But Kedir Bullo, one of the lawyers defending dozens of prominent opposition political figures arrested in the aftermath of popular Oromo musician Hachalu Hundessa's assassination on June 29, told the Nation the court rejected the request.

Mr Juma was arrested on July 3 from the home of Jawar Mohammed, an activist, and critic of PM Abiy Ahmed.

Mr Mohammed is also the founder of Oromia Media Network (OMN) and is being held by Ethiopian authorities, accused of crimes related to undermining authorities.

"We have fiercely complained to the court that police have failed to come up with concrete criminal offences against the defendant and argued that the court shouldn't allow police any additional investigation date," Kedir told the Nation last week.

Charges

Mr Juma was facing charges including incitement and involvement in violence, plotting to create ethnic violence and plotting to kill senior Ethiopian officials.

It is the same charges the politicians arrested last month are facing.

But mR Juma and two other journalists were freed by the court on bail.

Ethiopian authorities did not respond to our inquiries on why the journalist had still not been freed.

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