Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges - Committee to Protect Journalists: "Ethiopia Supreme Court says two Zone 9 bloggers should face incitement charges Text Size Print Share Members of the Zone 9 blogging group. (Endalkachew H/Michael) New York, April 6, 2017--Ethiopia's Supreme Court today ruled that two bloggers from the Zone 9 collective, previously acquitted of terrorism charges, should be tried instead on charges of inciting violence through their writing. If convicted of the charge, Atnaf Berhane and Natnail Feleke would face a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, according to the Addis Standard newspaper. The court upheld the lower court's acquittal of two other Zone 9 bloggers, Soleyana S Gebremichael and Abel Wabella. Today's actions by the Supreme Court were a response to prosecutors' appeal of the October 2015 acquittal of all four. "We urge Ethiopian authorities to do the right thing and drop any further prosecution of Atnaf Behane and Natnail Feleke on charges relating to their work," said Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. "Today's acquittal of two Zone 9 bloggers is a positive step, but there can be no celebration until this exhibition of legal harassment ends once and for all." Ethiopia ranked fourth on CPJ's 2015 list of the 10 Most Censored Countries and is the fifth worst jailer of journalists worldwide, according to CPJ's 2016 prison census. CPJ awarded Zone 9 an International Press Freedom Award in 2015. For more data and analysis on Ethiopia, visit CPJ's Ethiopia page."
'via Blog this'
The Advox Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world.
As protests rage over land rights and ethnic discrimination, bloggers and independent journalists in Ethiopia appear to be losing ground in their struggle to exercise free expression. Alongside other recent arrests, four members of the Zone9 bloggers collective, who spent 18 months in prison on terrorism-related charges from 2014-2015, returned to court on October 21 following an appeal by the public prosecutor. Their case was adjourned yet again, with a new court date scheduled for November 15.
The Addis Ababa-based blogging collective, six of whom are Global Voices contributors, had worked to foster political debate and discussion in the face of a near-monopoly that the state holds over media outlets.
Charged under Ethiopia’s Anti-Terrorism Proclamation with “inciting public disorder via social media” and “receiving support from a foreign government,” the bloggers appeared in court 38 times from July 2014 to October 2015, only to be adjourned each time at the behest of the prosecution, which sought more time to investigate their case. Some members were released without explanation shortly before Barack Obama’s July 2015 visit to the country. The rest were “acquitted” in October of that year, though they were never invited to testify before a jury. And now, a year later, the four members of the group—Abel Wabela, Atnaf Berahane, Natnael Feleke and Befeqadu Hailu—are returning to court once again.