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Ethiopia jails journalist for three years

October 28, 2014

Ethiopia has sentenced a journalist to three years in prison, the government spokesman said Tuesday, the latest in a string of jailings of reporters condemned by media rights groups.

Temesghen Desalegn was sentenced Monday after being found guilty of defamation and incitement, charges he denies.

“All that he did through his newspaper was presented to the court, and the court has interpreted the evidence,” government spokesman Redwan Hussein told AFP.

“The court has reached its verdict – had the charges not been substantiated, the verdict would have been different.”

The charges stem from opinion pieces he wrote in 2012 for the now closed Feteh news magazine.

Rights groups routinely accuse Ethiopia of trumping up charges as well as using anti-terrorism laws to silence dissent and jail critics.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the sentence.

“With each journalist sentenced to prison, Ethiopia takes another step further from freedom of the press and democratic society,” CPJ’s Tom Rhodes said in a statement.

“We urge Ethiopian authorities to overturn Temesghen’s conviction on appeal and release him and all other journalists jailed for doing their jobs.”

The CPJ says at least 17 journalists are in jail in Ethiopia, the largest number in Africa except those imprisoned by neighbouring Eritrea.

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.