Ethiopian police detain journalists, translator for 24 hours

Ethiopian federal police detained Bloomberg correspondent William Davison, freelance journalist Jacey Fortin, and a translator they had hired near the eastern town of Awash at around 12:40 p.m. on March 3, according to the Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa.

Police took the journalists’ phones and identification cards and escorted them back to Addis Ababa, where they held the three at a police office, then at a police station jail, where they spent the night, according to the association. Police released the journalists and their translator without charge at around noon on the following day, the association said.

“Reporting on certain topics [in Ethiopia] has now become too risky because of the threat of detainment,” Davison told the Foreign Correspondents Association of East Africa after his release. “Until the government makes a genuine commitment to media freedom, it will be impossible for journalists to report safely with accuracy and integrity.”

The Ethiopian government has tried to restrict reporting of the effects of a severe drought in the eastern part of the country, according to news reports.

Ethiopia held at least 10 journalists in prison on December 1, 2015, when CPJ took its 2015 prison census, a snapshot of journalists held in prison around the world on that date.