Reports   |   Ethiopia

Clampdown in Addis: Appendix II

Attacks on the Press in Ethiopia
1992-1996

1992


December 7
Lucy Hannan, BBC, harassed
Hannan, a correspondent for BBC, was briefly detained and threatened with expulsion by Ethiopian security officials at the airport in Addis Ababa. Hannan had gone to the airport to interview a U. S. military officer on his way to Somalia. She was stopped by an American officer and handed over to Ethiopian security. After being detained at the airport, she was held under house arrest for several hours.

1993


February
Tesfaye Gebre Ab, Addis Zemen, imprisoned, legal action
Tsegaye Hailu, Addis Zemen, imprisoned, legal action
Sileshi Tesserna, Addis Zemen, imprisoned, legal action
Yeshtile Kokab, Addis Zemen, imprisoned, legal action

Tesfaye, editor of the government national daily Addis Zemen, and columnists Tsegaye, Sileshi, and Yeshtile were arrested and charged with "creating fear among the population." The arrests were in connection with an article discussing the positive and negative effects of democracy in Ethiopia. The journalists were released on bail of 10,000 birr (US$1,600). In August 1993, after six months of litigation, the journalists were acquitted of the charges.

April-December
Girma Lemma, Aphrodite, imprisoned
Messele Haddis, Aimiro, imprisoned
Nesanet Tesfaye, Aimiro, imprisoned
Kibret Mekonnen, Aimiro, imprisoned
Getachew Mekonnen, Feleg, imprisoned
Nigussie Ayele, Lucy, imprisoned
Girmaye Tsadik, Muday, imprisoned
Belete Abebe, Muday, imprisoned
Mesafe Sirak, Muday, imprisoned
Tesfaye Berehanu, Muday, imprisoned
Kifle Mulat, Zena Adams, imprisoned
Mintesinot Zena, Zena Adams, imprisoned

Independent journalists, editors, and publishers were questioned, detained, or arrested for periods of time ranging from a few hours to several weeks. At the end of 1993, none remained in prison, although a new wave of arrests began after the new year.

September
Tefera Asmare, Etiopis, imprisoned, legal action
Iskinder Nega, Etiopis, imprisoned, legal action

Tefera and Iskinder, editor and publisher, respectively, of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Etiopis, were detained by police in early September and charged with "incitement to war." They were released on bail, only to be rearrested on Nov. 12 on charges of "inciting people against the government" and "disseminating false rumors." All the charges stemmed from an article about ethnic conflict in the Gondar region and an editorial titled "The President Pretends Everything is O.K." Iskinder was released from prison in April 1994 on an unspecified bail. In March 1994, Tefera was sentenced to two years in prison, and in June 1994 he was given an additional 18-month suspended sentence for publishing an editorial titled "Fascism in Tigray" and an article about
conflict in western Ethiopia. An appeal to the Supreme Court was pending at the end
of 1994, and Tefera was released from prison on Sept. 27, 1995, after serving much
of his sentence.

1994


January
Ezedin Mohammed, Ye Fikir Chawata, Imprisoned, Legal Action
Ezedin, editor of the independent Amharic monthly newspaper Ye Fikir Chawata, was arrested and sentenced to one year in prison on charges of offending public morals. Ezedin was released from prison in June 1995.

Mid-January
Antensay Tafesse, Moged, imprisoned, legal action
Kinfe Assefa, Moged, imprisoned, legal action<
BR> Atensay, editor of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Moged, and Kinfe, a reporter with the paper, were arrested on charges of spreading false news and inciting public unrest. They were released in March.

Late January
Tesfaye Berehanu, Muday, imprisoned, legal action
Asrat Damtew, Muday, imprisoned, legal action

Tesfaye, editor of the independent newspaper Muday, and Asrat, the newspaper's deputy editor, were arrested on charges of disseminating false information. The charges stemmed from Muday articles that were critical of the government. Tesfaye and Asrat were released in March.

January 15
Daniel Kifle, Fendisha, imprisoned, legal action
Daniel, the editor of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Fendisha, was arrested in connection with allegations published in Fendisha of corruption on the part of Prime Minister Tamirat Layne and claims by the newspaper that Eritrean troops were deployed in Ethiopia. On June 1, Daniel was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He was released in June 1995.

January 22
Nayk Kassaye, Beza, imprisoned
Yohannes Abebe, Beza, imprisoned, legal action
Nayk, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Beza, and Yohannes, deputy editor, were arrested. They were released on bail in March. Yohannes was rearrested in October and fined 10,000 birr (US$1,600) on Dec. 12. The grounds for his imprisonment and fine were unclear.

January 22
Daniel Tadesse, Waqt, imprisoned, legal action
Daniel, editor of the independent Amharic newspaper Waqt, was arrested for disseminating false information. He was fined between 10,000 and 20,000 birr (US$1,600-3,200) and released in mid-April.

January 24
Tamrat Bekele, Addis Tribune and Addis Dimts, harassed
Tamrat, publisher and editor of the independent English weekly newspaper Addis Tribune and the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Addis Dimts, was detained for questioning. He was released the same day on 10,000 birr (US$1,600) bail.

February
Kassa Kerega, Ye Egziabeher Mengist, imprisoned, legal action
Kassa, editor of the Christian newspaper Ye Egziabeher Mengist, was fined 12,000 birr (US$1,900) for insulting Islam. He was subsequently arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for failing to pay the fine. He was released in April.

February 8
Mesele Haddis, Aimiro, imprisoned
Netsanet Tesfaye, Aimiro, imprisoned
Kibret Makonnen, Aimiro, imprisoned

Mesele, editor in chief of the independent Aimiro, Netsanet, its managing editor, and Kibret, an editor, were arrested. They were released on bail on March 3.

February 8
Befekadu Moroda, Tomar, imprisoned, legal action
Befekadu, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Tomar, was arrested on charges of disseminating false news. He was released in early April.

February 9
Berehane Mewa, Dewol, imprisoned, legal action
Melaskatchew Amha, Dewol, imprisoned, legal action

Berehane, publisher of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Dewol, and Melaskatchew, the newspaper's editor, were arrested on charges of disseminating false news. They were released on bail on March 16, but were immediately rearrested for publishing a letter from an unknown armed group claiming responsibility for the attempted assassination of an employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development. The journalists were released in July on 20,000 birr (US$3,200) bail.

February 22
Girmay Gebre-Tsadikm, Muday, imprisoned, legal action
Mulugeta Gigo, Muday, imprisoned

Girmay, editor of the independent Muday, and Mulugeta, a reporter, were arrested. Girmay was released on bail in March, after being fined between 10,000 and 20,000 birr (US$1,600-3,200). Mulugeta was released on bail on March 7.

February 28
Biruk Tadesse, Beza, imprisoned, legal action
Biruk, acting editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Beza, was arrested on charges of inciting public unrest following the publication of an article about conflict in southern Ethiopia. Biruk was released on bail on March 3.

March
Girma Lemma, Aphrodite, imprisoned, legal action
Girma, editor in chief of the independent Aphrodite, was sentenced to one year in prison for publishing articles and photographs that "offended public morals." He had been arrested in January 1993, and was released in October 1994.

March 10
Tenker Tereda, Mekdela, imprisoned
Belanyneh Asegu, Mekdela, imprisoned
Feleke Alemu, Mekdela, imprisoned

Tenker, Belanyneh, and Feleke, reporters for the independent Mekdela, were arrested in connection with an October 1992 issue of the newspaper. They were released in May.

March 17
Wolde Giorgis Wolde Mikael, Free-lancer, imprisoned
Wolde, an Awasa-based free-lance journalist who had been in hiding since Feb. 22, was arrested without charge and held incommunicado in an Awasa prison for several months. He was released on 10,000 birr (US$1,600) bail.

April 7
Kefale Mammo, Ruh, imprisoned, legal action
Kefale, editor of the independent Amharic monthly magazine Ruh and chairman of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), was arrested. He was released the same month on 5,000 birr (US$800) bail. On Oct. 27, he was fined 10,000 birr (US$1,600) for publishing false information, inciting the public, and discrediting the government.

June 1
Mulugeta Lule, Tobia, legal action
Mulugeta, editor of the independent Amharic Tobia and vice chairman of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), was given a two-year suspended prison sentence and fined 10,000 birr (US$1,600). He had been charged with "publishing and disseminating false stories" about conflicts involving the army in the provinces of Gondar and Gojjam.

July
Habtamu Belete, Ruhama, imprisoned, legal action
Girma Endrias, Ruhama, imprisoned, legal action

Habtamu and Girma, reporters for the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Ruhama, were each sentenced to six months in prison for contempt of court. Girma was reportedly released at the end of 1994.

July
Melaku Tsegaye, Muday, imprisoned, legal action
Melaku, editor in chief of the independent newspaper Muday, was sentenced to one year in prison after failing to pay a fine of 10,000 birr (US$1,600). He was released in November, after an appeal to the Supreme Court.

October 4
Kumsa Burayu, Meda-Walabu, imprisoned
Tolera Tessema, Meda-Walabu, imprisoned

Kumsa, editor of the independent weekly newspaper Meda-Walabu, and Tolera, the newspaper's deputy editor, were arrested. The arrest was believed to be in connection with Meda-Walabu's publication of a communiqué by the exiled Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Tolera was released in October. Kumsa was released on Dec. 12.

Mid-October
Tewodros Kebede, Zog, imprisoned
Keleme Bogale, Zog, imprisoned

Tewodros, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Zog, and Keleme, deputy editor, were arrested in mid-October. Tewodros was released without charge on bail the same month. Keleme, whose detention stemmed from nonpayment of a 10,000 birr (US$1,600) fine, was released in late November.

Late October
Goshu Mogues, Tobia, imprisoned, legal action
Goshu, editor of the independent Tobia, was sentenced to a six-month prison term
in connection with Tobia's publication of a letter from Professor Asrat Woldeyes,
jailed leader of the All Amhara People's Organization (AAPO). Goshu was released
on Dec. 21.

December
Melaku Demisse, Ingocha, legal action
Melaku, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Ingocha, was fined 4,000 birr (US$650) and given a one-year suspended sentence.

December 14
Iyob Demeke, Tarik, imprisoned
Iyob, manager of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Tarik, was detained shortly after the independent weekly Urji quoted him as saying that certain newspapers had published articles meant to discredit the private press. Iyob was released on 10,000 birr (US$1,600) bail.

December 19
Wondimeneh Negussie, Beza, harassed
Wondimeneh, publisher and distributor of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Beza, was arrested and released the following day.

December 20
Bekele Makonnen, Urji, imprisoned
Tesfaye Deressa, Urji, imprisoned

Bekele, publisher and manager of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Urji, and Tesfaye, the newspaper's editor in chief, were arrested. They were released on bail in January 1995.


1995


March
Tamene Getachew, Meda-Walabu, imprisoned, legal action
Yohannes Abebe, Beza, imprisoned, legal action
Terefe Mengesha, Roha, imprisoned, legal action

Editors Tamene, Yohannes, and Terefe were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to one-and-a-half years for "publishing false information" in their independent publications. As of August 1996, all had been released from prison.

March
Antensay Tafesse, Mogad, imprisoned, legal action
Sissay Agena, Etiopis, imprisoned, legal action

Tafesse and Agena, editors of the independent weekly newspapers Mogad and Etiopis, respectively, were each sentenced to a one-year prison term on charges of "publishing false information." As of August 1996, these journalists had been released from prison.

March 24
Andargue Mesfin, Tenager, imprisoned, legal action
Tekle Yishal, Tenager, imprisoned, legal action

Andargue and Tekle, reporters for the independent weekly Amharic newspaper Tenager, were sentenced by the Central High Court to 18 months and 12 months in prison, respectively, for publishing an Oromo Liberation Front communiqué and for writing three political articles, including a story about the arbitrary murder of civilians by soldiers from the Woyane ethnic group. As of August 1996, Tekle had been released, and Andargue remained in prison.

May
Alem-Seged Tefera, Gananaw, imprisoned
Aklilu Tadesse, Andebet, imprisoned

Alem-Seged and Aklilu, reporters for the independent weekly newspapers Gananaw and Andebet, respectively, were taken from their offices by police and detained without charge for two days before being released. Each was interrogated about articles published in his paper.

May
Tamene Getachew, Meda-Walabu, imprisoned, legal action
Yohannes Abebe, Beza, imprisoned, legal action

Editors Tamene and Yohannes were convicted on charges of "incitement to war" for articles published in their respective independent weekly newspapers, Meda-Walabu and Beza. Each served a one-year prison sentence in the Addis Ababa State Prison. As of August 1996, both journalists had been released.

June
Beniam Tadesse, Agere, harassed
Bekele Mekonen, Urji, harassed
Tesfaye Deressa, Urji, harassed
Garuma Bekele, Urji, harassed
Mulugeta Lemessa, Urji, harassed
Atnafu Alemayehu, Tomar, harassed
Kassahun Saboqa, Tomar, harassed
Befekadu Moroda, Tomar, harassed
Tesehalene Mengesha, Mebreq, harassed

Addis Ababa police mounted a search for these independent journalists, aiming to arrest them. The journalists immediately went into hiding.

June 21
Dereje Birru, Tekwami, imprisoned, legal action
Abiy Afework, Tekwami, imprisoned, legal action
Abinet Tamirat, Dagmawi, imprisoned, legal action
Girmayeneh Mammo, Tomar, imprisoned, legal action
Solomon Gebre Amlak, Mogad, imprisoned, legal action
Sintayehu Biro, Tikuret, imprisoned, legal action
Daniel Dirsha, Kitab, imprisoned, legal action

These journalists for independent newspapers were arrested by government agents for publishing stories about the armed conflict between the government and opposition groups. They were charged with "warmongering, incitement of the public, and discrediting the government." As of August 1996, Dereje, Abinet, Girmayeneh, and Solomon were still in prison, and Abiy, Sintayehu, and Daniel had been released.

July 5
Taye Belachew, Tobia, imprisoned
Taye, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Tobia, was detained without charge by plainclothes agents of the Central Criminal Investigation Department. His arrest was believed to be in connection with a Tobia article about an Awasa regional official's refusal to perform his duties according to departmental regulations. During the interrogation, the police ordered Belachew to reveal his sources, but he refused. Taye was released on bail four days after his arrest.

September
Zegeye Haile, Genanaw, imprisoned
Befekadu Moreda, Tomar, imprisoned
Taye Belachew, Tobia, imprisoned
Tewdros Kebede, Roha, imprisoned
Atnafu Alemayehu, Tomar, imprisoned
Alemu, Beza, imprisoned

Publishers Zegeye and Befekadu, editors in chief Taye and Tewdros, deputy editor in chief Atnafu, and Alemu were detained for periods ranging from three weeks to four months in connection with articles they published about the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa on June 26. They were released on bail of 10,000 birr (US$1,800) each.

September 16
Mulugeta Lule, Tobia, imprisoned
Lule, manager of the independent newspaper Tobia and vice chairman of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), was arrested and held without charge for three days before being released on bail of 10,000 birr (US$1,800). His arrest was in connection with an article about the attempted assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa on June 26.

November
Lullit Gebre Michael, The Monitor, imprisoned
Fitsum Zeab Asgedom, The Monitor, imprisoned
The Monitor, censored

Lullit, editor of the independent English daily The Monitor, and Fitsum, the paper's publisher, were arrested at their offices and taken to the Criminal Investigation Department in connection with two stories The Monitor reprinted from the government news wire, the Ethiopian News Agency. The stories, which ENA had received from the Panafrican News Agency and Agence France-Presse services, reported an assassination attempt in Harare on exiled former Ethiopian dictator Col. Mengistu Haile Mariam. Lullit called to verify the information with the Ethiopian ambassador to Zimbabwe, whom she quoted in a follow-up to the stories. He stated that he was unaware of the incident and asserted that the Ethiopian government was not involved. The day after her arrest Lullit appeared before a judge who refused to hear her comments. He said that he had not read the articles in question and remanded her to custody. After nine days of detention, she was released without charge on a 10,000 birr bond (US$1,600). Five days later, after 14 days of detention, Fitsum was released on the same conditions. The court also ordered the newspaper suspended for three weeks. To date, no charges have been filed, and the case is still open.

November
Tesfaye Deressa, Urji, imprisoned
Bekele Mekonen, Urji, imprisoned
Garuma Bekele, Urji, imprisoned
Dagnachew Yilma, Dubtec Computer Service, imprisoned
Israel Saboga, Seife Nebelbal, imprisoned
Zegeye Haile, Lalibella, imprisoned
Getahun Bekele, Tarik, imprisoned
Akilu Tadesse, Andebet, imprisoned
Biruk Mekonnen, Beza, imprisoned
Mesfin Shiferaw, Beza, imprisoned
Iyob Demeke, Tarik, imprisoned
Getamessay Meskei, Dagnew, imprisoned
Worku Alemayehu, Mebrook, imprisoned
Tedros Kebede, Roha, imprisoned
Tesehalene Mengesha, Hanus, imprisoned
Biruk Dominique, Rohama, imprisoned
Terefe Mengesha, Roha, imprisoned

These independent journalists were arrested in connection with an interview with former President Mengistu Haile Mariam, cited by all the journalists, in which Mengistu accused the governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea of attempting to assassinate him. As of August 1996, all the journalists had been released from prison.

November 22
Mulugeta Lule, Tobia, imprisoned
Mulugeta, the manager of the independent newspaper Tobia and the vice chairman of the Ethiopian Free Journalists' Association (EFJA), was detained without charge by the police and held at the Central Criminal Investigation Department of Ma'ekelawi Prison. He was released on Dec. 1. His arrest was in connection with an article, published in the Nov. 9 issue of Tobia, about the attempted assassination of former President Mengistu Haile Mariam.

1996


January 10
Binyam Tadesse, Agere, imprisoned
Binyam, manager and publisher of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Agere, was detained in connection with an article he published about a jailbreak from the Addis Ababa Central Prison. On July 8, he was released on bail.

March
Tesfaye Tegen, Beza, imprisoned
Tesfaye, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Beza, was detained for a few weeks at the Ma'ekelawi Central Prison in Addis Ababa in connection with a cartoon he published in October 1995 that portrayed Prime Minister Meles Zenawi and other government officials as members of a submissive soccer team dominated by Meles, who was depicted as being much larger in size than his colleagues. Authorities told Tesfaye he had to pay a 10,000 birr (US$1,700) bond to secure his release, and when he could not find a personal guarantor to pay the bail, he was detained until April.

March 1
Iskinder Nega, Habesha, imprisoned
Iskinder, editor in chief of the English-language weekly Habesha, was remanded into custody at Ma'ekelawi, the prison of the Central Investigation Department. On March 28, Iskinder appeared before a judge and was granted bail of 5,000 birr (US$830).

March 4
Aklilu Tadesse, Andebet, imprisoned
Aklilu, owner and editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Andebet and former editor in chief of the independent Maebel, was detained on March 4 for failing to appear in court. During the first week of April 1996, Aklilu was released. He was first detained on June 6, 1995, and released after an unconfirmed period of time.

March 6
Solomon Lemma Gemechu, Wolafen, imprisoned, legal action
Solomon, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Wolafen, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. He had been in detention since Feb. 5, 1995.

March-April
Kumsa Burayu, Meda-Walabu, missing
Tsegaye Meskele, Etiop, missing
Getahun Bekele, Tarik, missing
Nayk Kassaye, Beza, missing

Meda-Walabu editor Kumsa disappeared in March. Etiop editor Tsegaye disappeared in the first week of April. Getahun, editor in chief of Tarik, reportedly escaped with some other prisoners from Addis Ababa Central Prison during a Jan. 6 jailbreak. He was reported missing by his family, but is believed to be in Kenya. Nayk, editor in chief of Beza, disappeared on May 9, 1994; he is also believed to be in Kenya now.

April
Bekele Dissassa, imprisoned
Bekele, a newspaper and magazine distributor based in the Welega Province town Nekemte, was imprisoned. He was released during the first week of June 1996.

April 17
Tamrat Gemeda, Seife Nebelbal, imprisoned
Tamrat, acting editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Seife Nebelbal, was detained at the Central Criminal Investigation Office prison. Tamrat was released on June 5 on an unspecified bail.

April 19
Israel Seboka, Seife Nebelbal, imprisoned
Israel, publisher and manager of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Seife Nebelbal, was detained at the Central Criminal Investigation Office prison. Israel was released without charge on June 5 on bail of 10,000 birr (US$1,700).

May 16
Zegeye Haile, Genanaw, imprisoned
Zegeye, publisher and deputy editor in chief of the independent newspaper Genanaw, was detained at the Central Criminal Investigation Office prison. He was released without charge on May 23 on bail of 30,000 (US$5,000) birr.

May 20
Garoma Bekele, Urji, imprisoned, legal action
Solomon Nemera, Urji, imprisoned, legal action

Garoma, publisher of the independent Urji, was detained at the Central Criminal Investigation Bureau prison. Garoma, who was released on May 22 on bail of 10,000 birr (US$1,700), was charged with disseminating false information in connection with a story published in the Jan. 30 issue of Urji about new taxation imposed on peasants in Oromiya Regional State. Solomon, editor in chief of Urji, was detained on May 20 at Addis Ababa Prison. Solomon, who was released on May 22 on bail of 6,000 birr (US$1,000) , was also charged with disseminating false information in connection with the same story. On June 6, he was fined 300 birr (US$50) for contempt of court.

June 7
Sintayehu Abate, Remet, legal action
Sintayehu, editor in chief of the independent Amharic weekly newspaper Remet, was sentenced to 12 months in prison.

July 9
Mulugeta Lule, Tobia, imprisoned, legal action
Mulugeta, manager of the independent monthly magazine and weekly newspaper named Tobia, and vice president of the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), was detained and charged on two counts by the public prosecutor's office. The first charge was in connection to former head of parliament Maj. Admassie Zeleke's lack of faith in a particular doctor's ability. The second charge was brought because Tobia does not have a deputy editor in chief on staff. Mulugeta was released on 20,000 birr (US$3,300) bail.


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