Friday, May 11, 2012

Ethiopia: National Press Club Urges Release of Ethiopian Journalist

SOURCE National Press Club

The National Press Club on Thursday voiced its strong concern over the expected imminent sentencing of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, who is accused of violating the country's draconian anti-terrorism law as a result of his high-profile advocacy of press freedom.

Sentencing of Nega could come as soon as Friday. There is the chance he could be sentenced to death or ordered to spend 15 to 20 years behind bars under Ethiopia's 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.

Nega has been imprisoned since last September after he posted an online column that called to account the Ethiopian government for its arrest of dissidents, use of torture in prisons and denial of freedom of expression rights. He has been jailed on at least seven different occasions in the last 20 years.

"When other journalists fled the Ethiopian government's crackdown on the press, Eskinder Nega stayed and he courageously used his Internet platform to bring much-needed attention to government wrongdoing and abuse," NPC President Theresa Werner said. "We call upon the government of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to promptly release Nega and to cease its authoritarian persecution of journalists."

Journalists and human rights advocates around the world have called for the release of Nega, who was honored last month with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award.