Ethiopian Authorities Release Two Zone 9 Bloggers and Four Journalists

Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the release of two Zone 9 Bloggers who were arrested along with four other bloggers and three journalists in April 2014 on incitement and terrorism charges. In what is seen as an unprecedented move by the Ethiopian authorities three journalists were also released with all charges against the journalists and bloggers dropped. Another journalist who had spent more than four years in prison has also been released.

“While it is a welcome move by the Ethiopian authorities in releasing Zone 9 Bloggers Mahlet Fantahun and Zelalem Kibret and four other journalists we can never forget that several of their colleagues still remain behind bars on trumped up charges” says Mesfin Negash, Programme Director for the East & Horn of Africa at Civil Rights Defenders.

“We urge the Ethiopian Government to now show the world that it is willing to adopt the principles of freedom of speech and release all Bloggers, journalists  and human rights defenders incarcerated in Ethiopia’s prisons” added Mesfin Negash.

Zone 9 describes itself as “an informal group of young Ethiopian bloggers working together to create an alternative independent narration of the socio-political conditions in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is the second worst jailer of journalists in Africa after Eritrea and ranked fourth on the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ’s) list of the 10 most censored countries.

Zone 9 Bloggers Released:

  • Mahlet Fantahun
  • Zelalem Kibret

Journalists Released:

  • Asmamaw Hailegiorgis (Editor)
  • Edom Kassaye (Freelance)
  • Tesfalem Waldyes  (Freelance)
  • Reeyot Alemu (Reporter)