New York, July 9, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the release from prison today of Ethiopian journalist Reeyot Alemu, a critical columnist who has been jailed since June 2011 on terrorism charges. Reeyot was sentenced in 2012 to 14 years in prison, which was reduced to five years on appeal. Reeyot told CPJ today that she was happy to be free and that her health was “okay,” but that she was still taking painkillers. The journalist suffered from breast tumors while in prison.
“We are elated that Reeyot Alemu has been released, but she should never have been jailed in the first place. She served more than four years while in poor health and under often restrictive conditions,” said CPJ’s Africa program coordinator, Sue Valentine. “We call on Ethiopian authorities to free all journalists imprisoned in relation to their work.”
Alemu’s release comes a day after the release of five other jailed Ethiopian journalists–editor Asmamaw Hailegiorgis; freelancers Edom Kassaye and Tesfalem Waldyes; and Mahlet Fantahun and Zelalem Kibret, bloggers for the independent collective Zone 9. With at least 11 other journalists remaining in prison, including four other Zone 9 bloggers, Ethiopia is the second-worst jailer of journalists in Africa, after Eritrea, according to CPJ research. Most of the journalists face terrorism charges. The country is ranked fourth on CPJ’s list of the 10 Most Censored Countries.