Ethiopian journalists jailed for conspiracies
Twenty Ethiopians, including a prominent blogger, journalists and opposition figures, were jailed for between eight years to life yesterday on charges of conspiring with rebels to topple the government.
Rights groups condemned the sentences, and the Committee to Protect Journalists said it showed Ethiopia was using an “iron fist” to crush critical reporting.
The country is fighting separatist rebel movements and armed groups it says are backed by arch-foe Eritrea.
However, rights groups say Ethiopia regularly uses security concerns as an excuse to crack down on dissent and media freedoms.
Blogger and journalist Eskinder Nega, who was arrested last year and accused of trying to incite violence with a series of online articles, was jailed for 18 years. Five other exiled journalists were sentenced in absentia to terms between 15 years and life.
“The sentences are appropriate,” Judge Endeshaw Adane said in court.
The 20 were charged last year, most of them in absentia, with counts including conspiracy to dismantle the constitutional order, recruitment and training for terror acts and aiding Eritrea and a rebel group to disrupt security.
They were also accused of belonging to Ginbot 7, a group branded a “terrorist” organisation by the government.
Another four people charged with them were not sentenced yesterday and were being treated as a separate case, said court officials.
Nega’s lawyer, Abebe Guta, said his client would appeal against the sentence.
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