Senegal: CPJ condemns imprisonment of two journalists in Ethiopia

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) -  Ranked among worst jailers of journalists worldwide, Ethiopia has sent two more scribes from the faith-based broadcasting station, Radio Bilal, to prison over terrorism charges.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori were sentenced on 2 January 2017 to prison terms of five years and six months and four years and five months respectively.

In a statement obtained by PANA in Dakar, Senegal on Thursday, CPJ condemned the prison sentences handed down to the two journalists, observing that the "harsh sentences are the latest evidence of the Ethiopian government's hostility to free expression and the right of journalists to do their jobs without fear of censorship or arrest."

"Khalid Mohamed and Darsema Sori are journalists, not terrorists. They should be freed immediately," remarked CPJ's Africa program coordinator, Angela Quintal.

Khalid, a news editor, and Darsema, a senior editor at Radio Bilal, were convicted on 21 December 2016 of inciting extremist ideology and planning to overthrow the government through their coverage of Muslim protests about government interference in religious affairs.

According to CPJ, the two journalists, who have been in custody since their February 2015 arrest, were convicted under Ethiopia's 2009 anti-terrorism law, alongside 18 other defendants.  

Their co-accused were also sentenced on the same day as part of the same mass trial.

In another development, CPJ said an Ethiopian court on Tuesday denied bail to another journalist, Getachew Shiferaw, editor-in-chief of online newspaper Negere Ethiopia who has been in prison since December 2015.

Ethiopian activists monitoring his case told CPJ that the trial has been postponed to February 14 and recently the court reduced his charge from terrorism to inciting subversion.

The three journalists were among 16 imprisoned in Ethiopia for their work at the time of CPJ's 2016 prison census, which found Ethiopia to be among the top five worst jailers of journalists worldwide.

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 5Jan2017

05 january 2017 14:35:20

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