Attack on Ethiopian Journalists
Daniel Abraha, Netsanet
Zekerias Tesfaye, Netsanet
and Abraha, publisher and editor-in-chief, respectively, of the Amharic-language weekly Netsanet, were charged with
The charges stem from a January 18 Netsanet article alleging
that Sheik Mohammed al-Amoudi, a wealthy businessman and owner of the Sheraton hotel in the capital, Addis Ababa, has connections
with Osama bin Laden, suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. The story also claimed
that authorities had arrested al-Amoudi for questioning. After the article was published, a representative of the businessman
phoned Netsanet and asked the paper to print a retraction of the story, but the paper refused. Al-Amoudi then lodged
a complaint with police.
Plainclothes police officers detained Tesfaye while he was eating
lunch with friends at an Addis Ababa hotel. Local sources say that Tesfaye had not responded to an earlier police summons
for fear that he might be harassed. After making a statement to police, he was charged and then released on a 5,000 birr bail
(US$600). On January 31, Abraha was also charged for the same article after he responded to a police summons. He was also
released after paying a 5,000 birr (US$600) bail.
Shimelis Asfaw, Ethio-Time
In early March, Asfaw, former editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language
weekly Ethio-Time, appeared before an Addis Ababa court to face charges of disseminating fabricated information about
the government and its officials that could affect public opinion, the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association reported.
The charges stem from a July 2001 Ethio-Time article alleging
that one general in the Ethiopian army had been dismissed from his post, while another general was being detained by police
at a secret location. Asfaw was released on a 2,000 birr (US$250) bail, and a hearing was scheduled for May 29. By years end,
CPJ could not determine the status of the case.
Kebebew Gebyehu Filate, Tobia
Filate, editor-in-chief of the independent Amharic-language weekly
Tobia, was charged under Press Proclamation No. 34 for inciting violence and defamation. Both charges stem from a 2001
Tobiaŭinterview with Wondosen Lema, the vice administrator for a prison in the North Shoa Zone in central Ethiopia,
according to local sources. In the articles, Lema alleged that human rights violations were rife in the region, and that the
zones justice minister, Dawit Argaw, was partly responsible for the regions poor administration. Filate appeared before an
Addis Ababa court in early March. He was released on a 2,000 birr (US$250) bail.
Wosonseged Gebre Amlake, Ethiop
Amlake, deputy editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language weekly newspaper
Ethiop and the affiliated monthly Ethiop magazine, was called to court to face charges of disseminating fabricated
information that could affect public opinion, according to the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists Association.
The charges stem from a December 2001 Ethiop magazine article
alleging that ethnic bias occurred during a personnel restructuring in the Ministry of Justice and in the police force, and
that there was tension between police and the public prosecutor as a result. Amlake was released on bail of 2,000 birr (US$250).
He was detained again in October in connection with the same article and was released a few days later on a 2,000 birr (US$250)
bail. His case remained pending at years end.
Arega Wolde Kirkos Ayele, Tobia
Ayele, editor-in-chief of the independent, Amharic-language weekly
Tobia, appeared before an Addis Ababa court in mid-March to face criminal defamation charges that had been filed against
him in December 1999. The charges stemmed from two articles about the state-owned Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation published
in the summer of 1999. Local sources say the articles criticized the companys management and reported that some workers had
complained that a non-Ethiopian had been appointed to the post of general manager. Ayele was released on a 1,000 birr (US$120)
bail. His case has been adjourned until 2003.
March 20Melese Shine, EthiopShine,
editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language weekly Ethiop, appeared before an Addis Ababa court on March 20 to face two
charges of violating Ethiopias Press Proclamation, including defaming the head of state and publishing an illegal article
in collaboration with an outlaw.
The charges stem from two articles that appeared more than a year
ago in Ethiop. Both stories were based on an interview with Col. Emiru Wonde, leader of an illegal opposition party,
in which Wonde criticized Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and his Tigray Peoples Liberation Front. On March 26, Shine was granted
bail of 10,000 birr (US$1,200). Unable to raise this sum, he remained in prison until June, when he was able to make bail.
Berhanu Mamo, Abyssinia
Mamo, editor-in-chief of the defunct Amharic-language weekly Abyssinia,
appeared before an Addis Ababa court to face charges of violating the Ethiopian Press Proclamation by publishing an article
that could incite ethnic conflict. The article, titled Oromigna Speaking Generals Fall Under The Suspicion Ring of Tigrigna
Speakers, appeared in 2001 in Abyssinia. Oromigna and Tigrigna are the languages spoken by two of Ethiopias largest
ethnic groups. Mamo was released on a 1,000 birr (US$120) bail. His case remained pending.
Tsega Moges, Zare New
Moges, editor-in-chief of the Amharic-language weekly Zare New,
was questioned by police about a press release printed in the February 23, 2002, issue of the paper from the Benishangul Liberation
Front, a separatist ethnic group. The groups statement called on Ethiopians to fight the regime of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
Moges was charged with inciting ethnic violence and released later that day on a 5,000 birr (US$620) bail pending trial.
Asrat Wodajo, Seife Nebelbal
Wodajo, editor of the independent, Amharic-language weekly Seife
Nebelbal, was jailed for failing to post bail after he was charged with publishing false information. The charge stemmed
from an article Wodajo wrote that appeared in Seife Nebelbal in 1999 alleging that an official in the Oromia State
regional administration had deserted his post and fled the country. Wodajo was released on May 23 after paying a 7,000 birr
May 17Melese Shine, EthiopShine,
editor-in-chief of the Amharic- language weekly Ethiop, was jailed after failing to post bail for a charge of inciting
the people to rebellion. The charge stemmed from a May 2001 article by Shine in which Abate Angore, secretary-general of the
Ethiopian Teachers Association, criticized the governments handling of April 2001 student protests in the capital, Addis Ababa,
during which more than 30 people were killed. Angore also said he believed that the government had a hand in provoking the
The bail for the charge was 2,000 birr (US$250). At the time this
charge was brought against him, Shine had already been in jail for nearly two months for failing to pay a 10,000 birr (US$1,200)
bail from a previous charge. Shine was released from prison on June 25 after paying bail.
Tewodros Kassa, Ethiop
Zegaye Haile, Genanaw
Haile, editor-in-chief of the private, Ahmaric-language paper Genanaw,
was arrested and sentenced to an indefinite prison term for failing to post US$300 in bail after a prosecutor charged him
with distributing false information in an article about prison conditions in the town of Nazareth. CPJ visited Zegaye in prison
on July 25 during a mission to the country. He was released near the end of the year.
Wosen Seged Mersha, St. George
Almaz Yeheise, St.
Mersha and Yeheise, reporter and deputy editor-in-chief, respectively, for the independent weekly St.
George, were detained by police in the capital, Addis Ababa. St. George, a sports newspaper, is affiliated with
the St. George football club, one of Addis Ababas two main football teams. The arrests came after an April 10 article by Mersha
criticized a referee who had officiated a game between the two teams in March for being biased. Police informed the two journalists
that they were being charged with defamation and then released them after each had paid a 2,000 birr (US$250) bail.