Federal High Court Judge Zewdinesh Asres convicted Ali and Wedajo on criminal code and press law charges in connection with their coverage of sensitive topics dating back a number of years, according to local journalists. She sentenced them each to one year in prison.
Ali, editor of the weekly Muslim-oriented newspaper Salafiyya, was convicted in connection with a piece written by a guest columnist and published in 2007 that criticized the Ministry of Education’s proposal to restrict headscarves for female Muslim students at public educational institutions, according to defense lawyer Temam Ababulgu.
Wedajo, former editor of Seife Nebelbal, a now-defunct weekly that was banned amid the 2005 government crackdown on the press, was convicted in connection with a 2004 story alleging human rights violations against the ethnic Oromos, the largest ethnic group in the country, according to local journalists.
Ali and Wedajo were being held at Kality Prison, outside the capital, Addis Ababa, pending appeals in their case. The Ethiopian government has had a longstanding practice of reviving years-old criminal cases, some of them seemingly dormant, as a way to silence critical journalists.