JUNE 28, 2005
Posted: June 30, 2005

Befekadu Moreda, Tomar
Zelalem Gebre, Menilik
Dawit Fassil, Asqual
Tamrat Serbesa, Satenaw


Police arrested four editors of private Amharic-language newspapers in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, CPJ sources said. The editors were charged with defaming the military, Ethiopian officials confirmed to Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters.

Befekadu Moreda, editor-in-chief of Tomar; Zelalem Gebre, editor-in-chief of Menilik; Dawit Fassil, editor-in-chief of Asqual; and Tamrat Serbesa, editor-in-chief of Satenaw were held for over seven hours before being released on bail of 2,000 birr (about US $228) each.

A CPJ source and AFP reported that the charge stemmed from reports in the weeklies about Ethiopian air force pilots who allegedly defected during a training program in Belarus last week. Reports about the pilots, first published last week, were carried widely in local and international media.

Reuters reported that the charge was linked to the newspapers’ reports on the country’s violent post-election upheaval. The country’s parliamentary elections on May 15 were followed by a deadly government crackdown on rioting opposition supporters who claimed the elections were riddled with fraud.

The arrests were the latest attempt by Ethiopian authorities to stifle information in the wake of the violence.