Ethiopian journalist jailed without charge since September

New York, October 29, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists calls upon authorities in Ethiopia’s northeastern region of Afar to release a journalist who has been held without charge since September 11.

Akram Ezedin is jailed in Asaita, the regional capital of Afar. He is 17 years old. His father is Ezedin Mohamed, the editor of Al-Quds, a privately owned Islamic weekly newspaper based in capital city of Addis Ababa.

In January, Mohamed began serving a one-year prison sentence for a 2008 column criticizing statements made by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Mohamed told CPJ. His son, Ezedin, was left to run the paper.

On September 11, police released Mohamed from prison and arrested his son. Ezedin’s imprisonment stems from articles that criticized the performance of Afar’s local Islamic Council or Mejilis, which Al-Quds published in July, according to local sources.

“Jailing Akram Ezedin without charge is against the laws of Ethiopia, where the pre-trial detention of journalists is illegal under the Mass Media and Freedom of Information Proclamation. Furthermore, any case against Al-Quds, a national newspaper, belongs in federal court, not state court,” said Tom Rhodes, CPJ’s East Africa consultant. “We call upon authorities in Afar to adhere to national laws and release Ezedin immediately.”

Ezedin has appeared in Afar’s court four times but has yet to be charged, according to local sources.

With five journalists behind bars, Ethiopia is currently Africa’s second-leading jailer of journalists, only trailing neighboring Eritrea, according to CPJ research.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The date of incarceration has been changed in the third paragraph.