“Freedom is partial to no race. Freedom has no religion. Freedom favors no ethnicity,” wrote Eskinder Nega, an Ethiopian journalist, just five days before his arrest.
Now, the court’s verdict will see him behind bars for the next 18 years.
“The court has given due considerations to the charges and the sentences are appropriate,” said Judge Endeshaw Adane.
A prominent journalist and blogger, Nega was arrested in September, 2011 under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation of 2009 for having links with US-based opposition group, Ginbot Seven.
Last month, he and 23 other Ethiopians, most of whom were members of the media, were found guilty and convicted of conspiring with rebels to overthrow the government. Along with Nega, the court sentenced five other journalists to prison terms ranging from eight years to life behind bars.
A dissident writer, Nega’s columns often criticized the Ethiopian government for not respecting freedom of expression and for silencing dissent. His writing also called for an end to the torture exercised in the country’s prisons. Eskinder is an award winning journalist and just this May, was awarded the prestigious PEN/ Barbara Goldsmith America’s Freedom to Write annual prize.
Vienna-based International Press Institute and other human rights groups have condemned the conviction of Nega and other journalists who were arrested with him last month.
Image: Eskender Nega and his wife, Serkalem Fasil, also a journalist, who was jailed with him in 2005.
Photo credit: Serkalem Fasil and The Committee to Free Eskinder Nega www.freeeskindernega.com
More information: International Press Institute condemns arrest of Eskinder Nega
Eskinder Nega’s famous column: www.abugidainfo.com/