Nairobi, October 27, 2014—The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns today’s sentencing of Ethiopian journalist Temesghen Desalegn to three years’ imprisonment on charges of defamation and incitement that date back to 2012. A court in Addis Ababa, the capital, convicted Temesgen on October 13 in connection with opinion pieces published in the now-defunct Feteh news magazine, according to news reports. He was arrested the same day. Authorities have routinely targeted Temesghen for his writing. Temesghen’s lawyer said he plans to appeal the ruling, according to local journalists.
“With each journalist sentenced to prison, Ethiopia takes another step further from freedom of the press and democratic society,” said CPJ East Africa Representative Tom Rhodes. “We urge Ethiopian authorities to overturn Temesghen’s conviction on appeal and release him and all other journalists jailed for doing their jobs.”
A state crackdown on independent publications and bloggers has taken place in Ethiopia this year, prompting several Ethiopian journalists to flee into exile, according to CPJ research. With at least 17 journalists in jail, Ethiopia is the second worst jailer of journalists in Africa, second only to its neighbor Eritrea, CPJ research shows.