Nairobi, April 1, 2022 — In response to the release of Ethiopian freelance journalists Amir Aman Kiyaro and Thomas Engida from detention on Friday, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement welcoming their release:
“It is a great relief that Ethiopian journalists Amir Aman Kiyaro and Thomas Engida are home with their families, after four months of arbitrary detention during which they were not charged with any crime,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “The journalists should never have spent a single day behind bars, and authorities should bring this ordeal to a close by dropping any pending investigations into their work and guaranteeing that they can do their jobs freely and safely.”
On November 28, 2021, authorities arrested Amir, a freelance video journalist who contributes to the Associated Press, and Thomas, a freelance camera operator, as CPJ documented at the time. Authorities accused them of breaching Ethiopia’s state of emergency and anti-terrorism laws by interviewing members of an insurgent group.
The two journalists were granted bail on Tuesday; on Thursday, the country’s Supreme Court rejected a police appeal to keep them in detention, and on Friday they were released, according to media reports and two people familiar with their case who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns.
Amir and Thomas were among a group of journalists detained in a crackdown that followed Ethiopia’s declaration of a state of emergency in November last year, as CPJ reported. They were not listed in CPJ’s 2021 prison census — which ranked Ethiopia as sub-Saharan Africa’s second-worst jailer after documenting at least nine journalists in custody there as of December 1 — because CPJ did not have the full details of their arrests at the time.
Even though the state of emergency was lifted in February, at least three other journalists — Temerat Negara, cofounder of the online outlet Terara Network, Oromia News Network editor Dessu Dulla, and ONN reporter Bikila Amenu — remain behind bars in the Oromia regional state, according to media reports and a person familiar with the ONN case who spoke to CPJ on condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns.