Ethiopia releases journalists Eskinder Nega & Woubshet Taye, opposition leader Andualem Arage and religious activist Ahmedin Jebel; drops charges against Zone 9 bloggers
(Daily Mail)― Ethiopia releases a jailed opposition leader and journalist on Wednesday and dropped charges against a group of bloggers in a wave of prisoner releases and pardons.
An AFP videographer said politician Andualem Arage and journalist Eskinder Nega left a prison in the capital Addis Ababa before a crowd of about 100 supporters.
“The struggle must continue. Better things should come for all of us, and a bright sunshine of democracy must shine in Ethiopia,” said Andualem, who was serving a life sentence on accusations of links to the banned Ginbot 7 group.
The case of Andualem and Eskinder, who was given an 18-year sentence on the same allegation, has attracted condemnation from rights groups and Ethiopia’s ally the United States.
Their release comes amid a string of pardons and prisoner releases that began last month, after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said the government would release jailed “politicians” in order “to improve the national consensus and widen the democratic platform”.
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“We are pleased that Eskinder Nega and Woubshet Taye are finally free since their arrests and convictions were shameful miscarriages of justice,” said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Angela Quintal. “We now urge the Ethiopian government to drop charges against other journalists and to implement the reforms needed for a free press to flourish.”
Woubshet and Eskinder were both arrested in 2011 and convicted in 2012 in unrelated cases.
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The state-affiliated media, Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC), also reported that, in addition to Eskinder Nega and Andualem Arage, former chief administrator of Gambella Regional State, Okelo Aquay as well as religious leaders/activists Ustaz Ahmedin Jebel, Kalid Ibrahim, Ahmed Mustefa and Mohammed Abate have been released today.
Bekele Gerba, secretary general of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), had been freed along with six other opposition figures yesterday (Feb. 13).
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