Bloomberg News

Ethiopia Court Sentences Journalists, Politician for Terrorism

January 26, 2012

Jan. 26 (Bloomberg) -- An Ethiopian judge sentenced three journalists, an opposition politician and another person to prison terms ranging from 14 years to life in jail for terrorism-related crimes.

Elias Kifle, who was convicted in absentia and runs the U.S.-based Ethiopian Review website, received a life sentence, said Federal High Court Judge Endeshaw Adane. Woubshet Taye, former deputy editor of the now-closed Awramba Times and Reeyot Alemu, a columnist for Fitih newspaper was were sentenced each to 14 years by the court in the capital, Addis Ababa, today.

The group were found guilty Jan. 19 of conspiring to commit terrorist acts and belonging to a banned group under a 2009 anti-terrorism law. All five are “prisoners of conscience” and did not commit any crimes, according to London-based Amnesty International.

“We are going to appeal to the Supreme Court,” said Molla Zegeye, a lawyer for Reeyot, after the sentencing. “She did not commit terror attacks. She is a professional journalist.”

Hirut Kifle got a 19-year sentence and Zerihun Gebre- Egziabher, president of the National Democratic Party, was jailed for 17 years, said Endeshaw.

“I am not guilty,” Zerihun said to the court after the sentencing. “History will prove I am innocent.”

Since March, 108 politicians and six journalists have been arrested for having links to banned groups, according to Amnesty.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Karl Maier

To contact the reporter on this story: William Davison in Addis Ababa at wdavison3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net


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