Newspaper distributor detained, released on bail

New York, August 24, 2005—A prominent newspaper distributor was released on bail Tuesday after four days in police detention in the capital, Addis Ababa. Fikre Gudu was arrested in connection with an interview he gave to the private Amharic-language weekly Asqual about his one-month imprisonment in June, according to local sources who spoke to him after his release.

In the interview, which ran after his release on July 7, Gudu talked about his arrest and subsequent imprisonment in a detention center outside the capital. According to local sources, he described poor prison conditions and criticized the government for jailing him, saying his arrest was part of a crackdown on Ethiopian independent media. (For information on Gudu’s previous imprisonment, see:

During his latest imprisonment, police accused Gudu of using the interview to spread false information and defame the police and prison system, according to the sources who spoke to Gudu. It is unclear whether he has been formally charged.

Gudu is based in the Addis Ababa neighborhood of Arat Kilo, where most of the capital’s private newspapers are printed, CPJ sources said. His previous imprisonment and recent arrest may be part of a campaign to intimidate newspaper distributors, some local sources believe.

“It’s outrageous that Fikre Gudu was detained for speaking to a newspaper about a matter of public concern,” said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. “We call on Ethiopian authorities to stop harassing and intimidating Gudu immediately.”