Woubshet Taye

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Berhane Tesfaye and her son, Fiteh, try to visit Woubshet Taye every week. (CPJ)

"When I grow up will I go to jail like my dad?" This was the shattering question that the five-year-old son of imprisoned Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye asked his mother after a recent prison visit. Woubshet's son, named Fiteh (meaning "justice"), has accompanied his mother on a wayward tour of various prisons since his father was arrested in June 2011.

Authorities have inexplicably transferred Woubshet, the former deputy editor of the independent weekly Awramba Times, to a number of prisons. From Maekelawi Prison, authorities transferred him to Kality Prison in the capital, Addis Ababa, then to remote Ziway Prison, then Kilinto Prison (just outside Addis Ababa), back to Kality, and in December last year--to Ziway again.

New York, November 5, 2013--As media leaders and officials of regional institutions gather in Addis Ababa this week for the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the participants to ensure that press freedom is squarely on the agenda.

Woubshet Taye's wife Berhane Tesfaye and their son accepted an award on behalf of the imprisoned journalist. (CPJ/Sue Valentine)

Journalists and media owners across Africa gave Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye a standing ovation in Cape Town on Saturday night at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013, but he wasn't there to see it. Instead his wife and son accepted the Free Press Award on his behalf.

Part of the citation for the award reads: "Ethiopia is a jewel in the African crown for its beauty, its people, its history and, most recently, for its astonishing growth rates. It is the judges' view that journalists like Woubshet Taye and his colleagues Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega should be out of prison and working to build the prosperity and the freedom of a new Ethiopia. The judges make this award in recognition of Mr. Taye's work and in solidarity with his condition."

Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. (Lennart Kjörling and IWMF)

In 1968, Andrei Sakharov braved censorship and personal risk in the Soviet Union to give humanity an honest and timeless declaration of conscience. That same year, Ethiopia's most prominent dissenter, Eskinder Nega, was born. In January 1981, a year into Sakharov's exile in the closed city of Gorky, Reeyot Alemu, another fierce, Ethiopian free thinker, was born.

(Awramba Times)

New York, April 22, 2013--The Committee to Protect Journalists protests Ethiopian authorities' transfer of independent newspaper editor Woubshet Taye to a remote prison several hours away from his family's home. Woubshet has been imprisoned since June 2011 on vague terrorism charges that CPJ has determined to be unsubstantiated.

Swedish journalists Johan Persson
and Martin Schibbye appear on state television. (ETV/YouTube)

Nairobi, September 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Ethiopian government to set free six journalists in prison for their work, a day after Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were pardoned and released from Kality Prison in the capital Addis Ababa.

The front cover of Reeyot Alemu's book, 'EPRDF's Red Pen.' (Reeyot Alemu)

Nairobi, August 3, 2012--An appeals court in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, has reduced a 14-year prison sentence given to journalist Reeyot Alemu in January to five years and dropped most of the terrorism charges against her, according to local journalists.

Reeyot, a columnist for the independent weekly Feteh, was sentenced in January and fined 33,000 birrs (US$1,500) under Ethiopia's sweeping anti-terrorism law for planning and conspiring a terrorist act; possessing property for terrorist acts; and participating in the promotion or communication of a terrorist act, according to local journalists.

Addis Ababa, June 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists and the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) called for the release of journalists being held under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism laws and requested a review of those laws as they affect freedom of speech.

From left: Woubshet, Reeyot, Kifle.

New York, January 26, 2012--A U.S.-based journalist convicted on politicized terrorism charges in Ethiopia was sentenced to life in prison in absentia today, while two other Ethiopian journalists received heavy prison sentences in connection with their coverage of banned opposition groups, according to news reports.

From left: Woubshet, Alemu, and Kifle.

New York, January 19, 2012--Two journalists and a U.S.-based blogger who was tried in absentia were convicted on charges of terrorism in Ethiopia today and could be sentenced to the death penalty, according to news reports.

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