March 29, 2018

RSF calls for release of two Ethiopian journalists in joint letter

Ethiopian jounalist Eskinder Nega with Temesgen Desalegn after being released from Kaliti Prison in Addis Ababa on February 14, 2018 ©Yonas Tadesse/AFP
Forty human rights and free speech NGOs, including Reporters Without Borders (RSF), have sent a joint open letter to Ethiopia’s new prime minister, Abiy Ahmed, calling for the release of two journalists, Eskinder Nega and Temesgen Desalegn, and nine other political prisoners.

Eskinder, a columnist for the diaspora news website EthioMedia, and Temesgen, a columnist for the magazine Fact, were arrested along with nine other bloggers and opposition leaders during a meeting on 25 March to celebrate the recent release of 750 political prisoners.

Eskinder was freed on 14 February after being jailed for six years on a charge of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. Desalegn, who was held for two years for publishing information about “politicians and journalists linked with terrorist groups,” was released last October.

As well as calling for the release of the 11 detainees, the joint letter condemns the arrests as “contrary to international human rights law,” calls for an end to all forms of harassment against journalists, and urges the government to revise the terms of the state of emergency declared on 16 February.

Ethiopia is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.

The joint letter (in the original English) and the names of the organizations that signed it can be seen below.