Debebe, editor in chief of the private Amharic weekly, Zegabi, was sentenced to six months imprisonment for violating the Press Law by publishing an article entitled, “OLF launches attack in Bale.” CPJ was unable to confirm the exact charge or other details in the case, but journalists who covered the separatist Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) were often jailed for “distribution of false news likely to incite violence” or “membership in a terrorist organization.”
Debebe, a veteran of Ethiopia’s very small community of women journalists, has been a regular target of the regime. Most recently, in August 1999, she was charged with violating the press law by failing to publish the name of her newspaper’s deputy editor, and sentenced to a year behind bars. She posted bail at the start of 2000 and was released on February 2. She was again arrested on July 31.