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Ethiopia: Prosecutors Appeal Court Acquittal of Zone 9 Bloggers
In response to Ethiopian prosecutors appealing the dismissal of terrorism charges against five members of the Zone 9 bloggers and authorities issuing them a court summons, Freedom House issued the following statement:
"The Federal Supreme Court should reject the prosecution’s appeal and reaffirm the bloggers' innocence as the High Court did in October," said Vukasin Petrovic, director of Africa programs. "The terrorism charges against the bloggers were unfounded from the beginning and are part of the government’s relentless onslaught against freedom of expression."
In October, the Federal High Court acquitted four members of the Zone 9 bloggers: Abel Wabella, Natnael Feleke, Atnaf Berhane, Soleyana Shimeles (in absentia) of terrorism charges and lowered charges against Befekadu Hailu to "incitement of violence through writing." Two other members of the blogging collective and three journalists arrested in April 2014 and charged in the same file with the five bloggers had their charges dropped and released days before US president Barack Obama’s trip to Ethiopia in July. The appeal hearing date for the five has been set for December 30.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.