July 18, 2014
All the defendants were brought to Lideta High Court. For the first time families, friends and diplomatic community were allowed to enter the court room. The persecutor accused all the defendants of violating seven Ethiopian criminal laws including the controversial anti-terrorism law. The defendants’ lawyer asked for bail but the judge refused the bail citing that the charge is related with terrorism. The trial is adjourned for August 4 and all male and female defendants are transferred to Kilinto and Kality respectively.
July 17, 2014
A bi-weekly Amharic newspaper called the Reporter had reported that seven out of nine members of the Zone9 blogging collective and the three journalists are charged with ‘terrorism’ related activities. It was reported that the bloggers and journalists were brought to Lideta High Court late in the afternoon without prior announcement to their lawyers, family members and friends who follow the defendants’ case for the past three months. The defendants’ refused to be tried without the presence of their lawyer and the trial was re-scheduled for the next morning.
July 13, 2014
The court case of Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela and Mahlet Fantahun has passed as confusing as the July 12th court case. In similar manner the case was referred to Federal High Court.
July 12, 2014
The court case of Atnaf Berahane, Zelalem Kibret, Natnael Feleke, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye is set to continue at Federal High Court. This day’s court case was particularly confusing as the defendants, their lawyer and families were not allowed entry to the court. The decision why the court referred the case to the high court without any argument from the defendants’ lawyer is not clear. Beside the exact trial day at the Federal High Court is not known.
June 29, 2014
Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela and Mahlet Fantahun were brought before the court for the fifth time again without apparent charge. The hearing was adjourned before it even started because the court registrar did not show up for the hearing but yet again set to continue as the registrar popped up out of nowhere. The judge decided to proceed with the hearing that did not last for more than ten minutes and the hearing is adjourned for Monday 14th of July 2014 even though the police asked for more additional two weeks.
June 14, 2014
Atnaf Berahane, Zelalem Kibret, Natnael Feleke, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye were brought before the court for the fourth time. Police requested another additional 28 days again. The court granted an additional 28 days of investigation. The next hearing is set to be on July 12, 2014.
June 1, 2014
Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela and Mahlet Fantahun brought before the court for the fourth time again without apparent charge. The same court which rejected the extended 28 days request of the police two weeks earlier granted the police 28 days and the next hearing will be on June 29.
May 18, 2014
In similar manner to the first group of bloggers the second group of bloggers namely Befeqadu Hailu, Abel Wabela and Mahlet Fantahun brought before the court for the third time. Police requested additional 28 days for investigation but the court rejected the extended 28 days and asked the police to bring the detainees for the hearing on June 1, 2014.
May 17, 2014
Atnaf Berahane, Zelalem Kibret, Natnael Feleke, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye brought before the same court for the third time in a row without apparent charge. Again police requested additional 28 days for further investigation. In an apparent shift from earlier accusations police claimed the detainees are investigated with terrorism related charges. The court granted additional 28 days for investigation.The next hearing was re-scheduled to take place on June 14, 2014 at the same court.
May 8, 2014
Befekadu Hailu, Abel Wabela, and Mahlet Fantahun were brought before the same court. According to multiple reports, two of the bloggers claimed they were beaten. Police requested more time for their investigation. The next hearing for the three is scheduled to take place on May 18, 2014.
Both hearings were closed to the public, despite many attempts by diplomats and others to attend.
May 7, 2014
Atnaf Berahane, Zelalem Kibret, Natnael Feleke, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye were brought before an Addis Ababa court. At the brief hearing, police requested more time for their investigation. The next hearing for the six is scheduled to take place on May 17, 2014.
April 27, 2014
All nine individuals were brought before a judge Criminal Bench at the Arada Federal First Instance Court without the presence of their legal counsel or family members. The court ordered that they should be remanded in custody. Befekadu Hailu, Mahlet Fantahun and Abel Wabela were remanded in custody until May 8, 2014 and the other detainees until May 7, 2014.
According to reliable sources, the court record shows that the police requested remand for the detainees to obtain further evidence that they were “inciting chaos and violence through different websites pursuant to a plan to destabilise the country using social media by getting financial and intellectual support from a foreign force which calls itself a human rights defender”. The name of the organisation is not specified.
April 26, 2014
Asmamaw Hailegeorgis was arrested.
All nine men and women were taken to Maekelawi prison, a Federal detention centre in Addis Ababa, where detainees are widely reported to be routinely subject to coercive torture methods.
April 25, 2014
The six bloggers and human rights defenders from Zone9 were arrested at their offices and in the street on the afternoon of April 25, 2014 by both uniformed and plainclothed policemen. All six were first taken to their homes, where police conducted searches and confiscated private laptops and literature.
Freelance journalists Tesfalem Waldyes and Edom Kassaye were also arrested.
April 23, 2014
Facing increasing harassment and surveillance by the authorities, the Zone9 bloggers had temporarily suspended their activities over the last six months. The group announced on April 23, 2014 on social media that they were resuming their activities.