January 26, 2007
Original Alert: April 25, 2006
Abraham Reta Alemu, freelance
Alemu, previously free on bail after already serving more than three months of a one-year prison sentence handed down in April 2006, was ordered back to jail after Ethiopia’s Supreme Court rejected his appeal, according to CPJ sources. He was transferred to Kality Prison, on the outskirts of the capital Addis Ababa, according to the same sources.
A lower court had convicted Alemu of violating a provision of the 1992 Press Law stipulating that news must be “free of defamation and false accusations,” and of “spreading false rumors and accusations” against government and public officials, an offense under Ethiopia’s 1957 penal code, according to CPJ sources. The charges stem from a July 27, 2001, story in the now-defunct Amharic-language weekly Ruh, alleging that three top government officials, including Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, had misused World Bank funds destined for oil exploitation in eastern Ethiopia. Alemu claimed the source of the story was a news bulletin of the state-owned Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), according to CPJ sources. The ENA denied the existence of the alleged report.
For more information on this case, see CPJ’s April 2006 alert.