Comment Of Senator Patrick Leahy On The Conviction of Eskinder Nega

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee and Chairman of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, has released the following comment regarding the conviction Wednesday in Ethiopia of journalist Eskinder Nega - pictured above. (Photo : CPJ)

Opinion:

By Patrick Leahy, United States Senator for Vermont

“The Ethiopian Government’s use of vague anti-terrorism laws to silence the press has been widely and rightly condemned. The conviction of Eskinder Nega and other journalists, who are accused of nothing more than the peaceful exercise of rights clearly recognized under international law, is the work of a regime that fears the democratic aspirations of its own people. Over the years, United States administrations have provided Prime Minister Meles a veneer of legitimacy due to our shared interest in countering real terrorist threats, but he has exploited the relationship for his own political ends. It is time to put the values and principles that distinguish us from terrorists, above aid to a government that misuses its institutions to silence its critics.”
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Opinion

The Conviction of Eskinder Nega: Press Freedom Advocates Condemn ‘Politicized Trial’

June 27, 2012

The undersigned organizations strongly condemned the conviction of blogger and journalist Eskinder Nega on terrorism charges earlier today.

The conviction represents the criminalization of peaceful dissent in Ethiopia and is a clear violation of the rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.

Nega was found guilty of “participation in a terrorist organization” and “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt of (a) terrorist act” and is facing life in prison.

Nega is the fifth journalist in Ethiopia to be jailed for terrorism-related crimes in the past six months. In April, he was awarded the prestigious 2012 PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award, which honours writers that have been persecuted for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

Eskinder Nega has long been a thorn in the side of the Ethiopian government. He was jailed along with his wife and fellow journalist Serkalem Fasil for 17 months in the aftermath of Ethiopia’s disputed 2005 elections. Their son was born in prison. Their publishing house was closed and Nega has since been banned from journalism, but continued to write for online media and speak critically about the ruling party in Ethiopia.

Nega has been in jail since September 2011. He was arrested shortly after he criticized the government’s use of anti-terrorism laws to jail opposition figures and other journalists, including Woubshet Taye of the now-closed Awramba Times, Reyot Alemu of Feteh newspaper, and Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, who were arrested while reporting on rebel activity in the Ogaden region. Schibbye, Persson, Alemu and Taye all received years-long prison sentences at the end of 2011 and in early 2012.

Signatories

Amnesty International

Committee to Free Eskinder Nega

Committee to Protect Journalists

Freedom Now

Human Rights Watch

International Press Institute

Media Legal Defence Initiative

The National Press Club

PEN American Center

WAN-IFRA



 

 

 

 

 

 

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