Imprisoned: September 14, 2011
Ethiopian security forces arrested , a prominent online columnist and former publisher and editor of now-shuttered newspapers, on vague accusations of involvement in a terrorism plot. The arrest came five days after Eskinder published a on the U.S.-based news website that criticized the government for misusing the country's sweeping anti-terrorism law to jail prominent journalists and dissident intellectuals.
Shortly after Eskinder's arrest, state television the journalist as a spy for "foreign forces" and accused him of having links with the banned opposition movement Ginbot 7, which the Ethiopian government designated a terrorist entity. In an with Agence France-Presse, government spokesman Shimelis Kemal accused the detainee of plotting "a series of terrorist acts that would likely wreak havoc." Eskinder consistently proclaimed his innocence, but was convicted on the basis of a video of a public town hall meeting in which he discussed the possibility of a popular uprising in Ethiopia if the ruling party did not deliver democratic reform, according to reports.
In July 2012, a federal high court judge in Addis Ababa Eskinder to an 18-year prison sentence, according to local journalists and . Five exiled journalists were convicted in absentia at the same time.
CPJ believes the charges are part of a pattern of government persecution of Eskinder in reprisal for his coverage. In 2011, police Eskinder and threatened him in connection with his online columns that drew comparisons between the Egyptian uprising and Ethiopia's 2005 pro-democracy protests, according to . His coverage of the Ethiopian government's repression of the 2005 protests landed him in jail for 17 months on anti-state charges at the time. After his release in 2007, authorities banned his newspapers and him licenses to start new ones. He was first arrested in September 1993 in connection with his articles in the Amharic weekly, one of the country's first independent newspapers, about the government's crackdown on dissent in Western Ethiopia, according to .Ethiopia: 7
Imprisoned: June 19, 2011
Police arrested Woubshet, deputy editor of the independent weekly , after raiding his home in the capital, Addis Ababa, and confiscating documents, cameras, CDs, and selected copies of the newspaper, according to local journalists. The outlet's top editor, Dawit Kebede, the country in November 2011 in fear of being arrested; the is published online from exile.
Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Woubshet was among several people accused of terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia's neighbor, Eritrea, according to . In January 2012, a court in Addis Ababa Woubshet to 14 years in prison, news reports said.
CPJ believes Woubshet's conviction was in reprisal for ' critical coverage of the government. Prior to his arrest, Woubshet had written a column criticizing what he saw as the ruling party's tactics of weakening and dividing the media and the opposition, Dawit told CPJ. Woubshet had been targeted in the past. He was detained for a week in November 2005 during the government's crackdown on news coverage of unrest that followed disputed elections.
In April 2013, authorities Woubshet from Kilinto Prison, outside Addis Ababa, to a detention facility in the town of Ziway, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, according to local journalists and the . Ziway, one Ethiopia's largest prisons, is a maximum-security jail designed for those convicted of serious offenses, according to local journalists. The authorities did not provide a reason for the transfer. In November, Woubshet was transferred back to Kality prison because he was in poor health, according to local journalists.
Imprisoned: June 21, 2011
Ethiopian security forces Reeyot, a prominent, critical columnist for the leading independent weekly , at an Addis Ababa high school where she taught English. Authorities raided her home and seized documents and other materials before taking her into custody at the Maekelawi federal detention center.
Ethiopian government spokesman Shimelis Kemal said Reeyot was among several people accused of terrorist attacks on infrastructure, telecommunications, and power lines in the country with the support of an unnamed international terrorist group and Ethiopia's neighbor, Eritrea, according to . Authorities filed terrorism charges against Reeyot in September 2011, according to local journalists.
The High Court Reeyot in January 2012 to 14 years in prison for planning a terrorist act; possessing property for a terrorist act; and promoting a terrorist act. The conviction was based on emails she had received from pro-opposition discussion groups; reports she had sent to the U.S.-based opposition news site ; and unspecified money transfers from her bank account, according to court documents reviewed by CPJ.
CPJ believes Reeyot's conviction is due to columns she wrote that accused authorities of governing by coercion, by (for example) allowing access to economic and educational opportunities only to those who were members of the ruling party, according to CPJ's review of the translations in 2013. In the last column published before her arrest, she wrote that the ruling party had deluded itself in believing it held the legitimacy of popular support in the way of late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, according to local journalists.
In March 2013, prison authorities to place Reeyot in solitary confinement for saying she would publicize the abuse of her rights, according to her lawyer and family members. The same month, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment issued a that determined Reeyot's rights under the U.N. Convention Against Torture had been violated by the government's failure to respond to allegations of her ill treatment. Reeyot's health had deteriorated while she was held in pretrial , reports said.
In April 2013, Reeyot won the 2013 UNESCO-Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in recognition of her courage and commitment to freedom of expression.
In September 2013, prison officials Reeyot's visitors to her parents, denying visits from her fiancé, relatives, and friends. The journalist waged a four-day hunger strike in protest. Kemal said that Reeyot was being disciplined for violating prison laws, but did not elaborate, according to news reports.