PARIS, France, January 27, 2012/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A week after being found guilty of participating in a terrorist organization and preparing a terrorist attack, the Ethiopian journalists Reyot Alemu, columnist for the Amharic-language weekly Fitih, and Woubeshet Taye, deputy editor of Awramba Times – which has now closed own – were each sentenced yesterday to 14 years’ imprisonment.
“It is difficult to understand the Ethiopian justice system’s stubborn insistence on strictly applying an anti-terrorism law that has been accused of infringing on constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, and on convicting journalists who have not been proved to have done anything more than make contact with opposition figures,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The organisation believes proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of evidence required to validate a criminal conviction in trials, was not met by the prosecution.
“These prison sentences are distressing and cause serious damage to Ethiopia’s image. We strongly hope that this case will be reviewed on appeal. Reyot Alemu and Woubeshet Taye are no criminals and must be released.”
Reporters Without Borders carried out a fact-finding mission in Ethiopia between 9 and 12 January.
More information about Alemu and Taye, as well as the state of press freedom in Ethiopia, can be found in the mission’s report entitled “Journalists are not terrorists”:
Reporters without Borders (RSF)