ask the ethiopian government to free award-winning journalist eskinder nega

by Tim Phillips

In 2005, Eskinder Nega was incarcerated alongside his wife, fellow journalist Serkalem Fasil. According to a New Yorker article from July of this year,

Both had been arrested and put in Kaliti prison by the Ethiopian authorities for critical reporting of a violent crackdown on protests following disputed parliamentary elections, in which, according to some reports, security forces killed nearly two hundred people. Eskinder and his wife, Serkalem Fasil, a newspaper publisher, were acquitted in 2007, but their publications were banned and the Ethiopian government denied them licenses to launch new newspapers.

As a result, Nega turned to publishing online. He was arrested again in September 2011 for posts questioning the arrests of journalists and dissidents. His posts allegedly violated the same vague antiterrorism law, passed in July 2009, that the subjects of his writing had violated. More than a hundred other Ethiopians were charged under this far-reaching legislation.

In June, Nega and 23 others were found guilty, though 16 of them were in exile. Nega was sentenced to 18 years in prison. (Since 1993, he has founded 4 newspapers that have been shut down by the government and has been detained at least 7 times.) His appeal is scheduled for this Thursday, November 22.

Please ask the Ethiopian government to free Nega, one of the few outspoken journalists who was still active in Ethiopia. Earlier this year, the Ethiopian government released the editor of an independent newspaper and Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, “we know that activist efforts – including international pressure – can be persuasive to the Ethiopian government.”

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