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Ethiopia's Zone 9 Bloggers: 12 Months in Detention, No Justice
Marking the one year anniversary of Ethiopia's arrests of the Zone 9 bloggers and journalists, Freedom House released the following statement:
“These bloggers and journalists have spent a year in prison for the simple act of exercising their right to free expression,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “For the government of Ethiopia to charge these individuals as terrorists is not only a violation of Ethiopia’s constitution, it is an affront to the principles every free and democratic society stands for. The government should dismiss these charges and immediately release all imprisoned journalists and bloggers.”
On April 25 and 26, 2014, government security forces arrested six bloggers from the Zone 9 collective and three journalists and detained them in the infamous Federal Crime Investigation Sector (Maikelawi). After months of interrogation, the detainees were officially charged in July under the county’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
All the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their trial has been marred by blatant violations of due process and credible allegations of torture. The most recent court session, on April 8 was the 27th since the arrests. The case remains adjourned until May 26. The bench will continue hearing the prosecution’s witnesses from May 26-29. So far 18 of the 35 prosecution witnesses have testified.
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.