Two Ethiopian journalists freed after seven years in prison
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is relieved to learn that Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye, two Ethiopian journalists who had spent seven years in prison, were freed yesterday as part of the planned release of around 750 political prisoners that the prime minister promised on 3 January
Convicted in 2012 on charges of support for terrorism and acts of terrorism, Eskinder and Woubshet were sentenced to 18 and 14 years in prison respectively. Shortly before their arrests, both had written articles criticizing the 2009 terrorism law and the ruling party’s methods.
“We are deeply relieved and delighted to learn that Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye have been freed but their release must not eclipse their seven years of arbitrary detention and the relentless way the authorities have used the 2009 terrorism law to censor the media,” RSF said. “Rather than an isolated gesture, this measure needs to be part of a radical change in the government’s position towards the press.”
A week before his release, Eskinder was told that, in order to be freed, he would have to sign a statement falsely acknowledging his support for the “terrorist” group Ginbot 7. He refused to sign.
Ethiopia is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index.