Zone9 Blogger Zelalem Kibret Prevented From Leaving Ethiopia to Accept Award

Zelalem Kibret was one of the six Zone9 bloggers who were released in July 2015 after being held for 15 months. He has been banned from traveling to France to accept the 2015 RSF Press Freedom Prize. (RSF)


Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is worried about a travel ban imposed on the blogger Zelalem Kibret, which prevented him from flying to France to receive this year’s RSF Press Freedom Prize in the citizen-journalist category on behalf of the Zone9 blogger collective.

As Zelalem Kibret was about to set off for Paris on 16 November, the Ethiopian authorities confiscated his passport and prevented him from boarding his plane. Immigration officials said he could not leave Ethiopia because he and other Zone9 members had previously been arrested.

RSF has repeatedly tried to obtain more information about the travel ban from the Ethiopian authorities in Addis Ababa and Paris, but without success.

“We are surprised and disturbed by the travel ban imposed on Zelalem Kibret,” said Clea Kahn-Sriber, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.

“No restriction was placed on his movements when he was released in July, and the rest of the collective was cleared of all terrorism charges in October. We do not understand why his passport has been confiscated and we urge the relevant authorities to quickly restore his rights.”

When Kibret complied with instructions to go to the police the next day, he was told that an investigation was under way and that his passport would not be returned until it was completed.

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