Government officially charged Ethiopian bloggers and journalists as a ‘terror’ suspects

A bi-weekly Amharic newspaper reported that seven out of nine members of the Zone9 blogging collective and three journalists are charged with ‘terrorism’ related activities. It was reported that the bloggers and journalists were brought to Lideta High Court on Thursday late in the afternoon of Addis Ababa time without prior announcement to their lawyers, family members and friends who follow the defendants’ case for the past three months.

The report pointed out that lawyer of the defendant bloggers and journalists, Amaha Mekonen was not around during the proceeding which the defendants protested to the presiding judge citing the absence of their lawyer as a reason. The judge accepted the protest of the bloggers and journalists and re-scheduled the’ trial’ for early morning hours of Friday July 18, 2014

The charges

  1. Working with organizations which are branded as ‘terrorist’ by Ethiopian government.The Ethiopian government charged the bloggers and journalists with the controversial anti-terrorism law which was enacted in 2009. The newspaper reported that the bloggers and journalists indicated for receiving training and financial support from two totally ideologically dissimilar Ethiopian political parties who are based in Europe and USA.
  2. Taking part in training of software tools  used for email encryptionThe bloggers and journalists are accused of taking part in training of an Internet encryption tools that are developed by Tactical Tech and Front Line Defenders, two Europe based human right NGOs.
  3. Underground OrganizationAccording to the news report the bloggers and journalists are also accused of organizing themselves clandestinely as Zone9 blogging collectives

Reaction

The majority members of the Ethiopian online community have laughed off the charge as a poorly written fiction. Stay tuned since details charges will emerge by tomorrow as we are working to get hold of the written charges.

Endalk Chala

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