Addis Ababa — The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is urging Ethiopian authorities to release Belay Manaye, the chief editor of the private news outlet Ethio News, who has been detained without explanation for more than three weeks.
According to Belay's wife and Ethio News co-founder, the journalist was arrested on 13 November by police officers near the Ethio News office. In contravention of domestic and international legal standards, he has not been formally charged or brought before a court to contest his detention, the CPJ disclosed.
"Belay Manaye has spent three weeks behind bars without any explanation from Ethiopian authorities. This sends a grave message to other Ethiopian journalists--that they can be deprived of their liberty at any time," Muthoki Mumo, CPJ's sub-Saharan African Representative, stated. "Authorities should unconditionally release Belay Manaye and stop arbitrarily detaining members of the press."
According to the organization, Ethiopian officials have declined to disclose Belay's current whereabouts, provide justification for his arrest, allow him legal counsel, or present him before a court, despite repeated inquiries. However, CPJ indicated that it has learned that Belay is being held in solitary confinement at a Federal Police detention center in Addis Ababa.
The CPJ has noted particular worry that the journalist is jailed under the state of emergency enacted in August 2022, which enables security forces to conduct warrantless arrests and indefinitely detain prisoners without judicial oversight. Monitoring groups allege these provisions are being instrumentalized to suppress critical reporting.
Prior to his arrest, journalist Belay garnered attention for his reporting on internal military clashes in Ethiopia's Amhara state. In addition, many other reporters covering the conflict in Amhara have also been detained during an intensified crackdown.
In 2020, Belay was imprisoned for 46 days alongside his colleagues, despite no charges being filed. The CPJ stated that the repeated arrest of the editor without any conviction highlights an ongoing threat to journalists.
Due to the serious violations of due process and the absence of charges, CPJ has demanded the swift and unconditional release of Belay from custody. The organization stressed that his unjust and prolonged detention signifies a further erosion of recent press freedom gains in Ethiopia.
In November 2023, CPJ expressed grave concern about the detention of three journalists during the state of emergency declared in the conflict-ridden Amhara region. Abay Zewdu, who serves as the chief editor of the YouTube-based Amhara Media Center (AMC), Yidnekachew Kebede, founder and editor of YouTube-based Negari TV, as well as Fekadu Mahtemework, editor-in-chief of the weekly Ghion Magazine, were all arrested between late August and early September.