Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Ethiopian bloggers freed ahead of Obama visit

09 July 2015, 12:44

Addis Ababa - Charges against five bloggers and journalists held in Ethiopia for over a year were dropped Wednesday, weeks before President Barack Obama is due to visit the country.

Five others also arrested in April 2014 remain in jail, accused of planning terrorist attacks and collaborating with US-based opposition group Ginbot 7, labelled by Ethiopian authorities as a terrorist organisation.

"The release of these five journalists is a welcome turn of events in Ethiopia, where the number of journalists in prison has steadily increased in recent years," said Tom Rhodes, East Africa Representative at the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Also Read: Eritrea defends conscription as thousands flee

"We call on authorities to release the remaining Zone 9 bloggers and all the journalists in jail for their work, and to drop all charges against them," he said in a statement Thursday.

The CPJ said that at least 12 other journalists were still incarcerated, most facing terrorism charges, making Ethiopia the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after its oppressive neighbour Eritrea.

Press freedom

Ethiopia is a ally of the West in the fight against Islamist extremism in East Africa, receiving millions of dollars in foreign aid, but has a dire record when it comes to human rights and press freedom.

In elections in May the ruling Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) coalition, in power since the end of a civil war in 1991, and its allies won every seat in parliament.

President Barack Obama is due to visit Ethiopia later this month as part of an Africa tour that includes a trip to Kenya, where his father was born. In Ethiopia, Obama is expected to meet Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and address the African Union at its Addis Ababa headquarters.

In the unexpected move on Wednesday state prosecutors dropped all charges against journalists Asmamaw Hailegiorgis, Edom Kassaye and Tesfalem Waldyes, and bloggers Mahlet Fantahun and Zelalem Kibret.

Four other members of Zone 9, a blogging collective, remain in jail while one other was charged in absentia.

The Zone 9 website, proclaiming "we blog because we care", features mostly social and political commentary, often critical of the government.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...