Getachew, editor-in-chief of the online newspaper Negere Ethiopia, was arrested on December 25, 2015, amid a mass crackdown of journalists and activists opposed to a plan to extend the Ethiopian capital, according to news accounts.
Getachew was initially held at the Maekelawi federal police investigation center, where political detainees have been tortured and ill-treated, according to a 2013 report by Human Rights Watch.
Despite being brought before the courts several times, his case was postponed without charges being brought against him, the independent Addis Standard newspaper reported. After a court ordered his release after the four-month period in which Ethiopian law states a detainee must be charged, police charged him under the country’s anti-terror law, according to media reports.
Negere Ethiopia is affiliated with the Blue Party, an opposition movement that has campaigned for greater political openness in Ethiopia, news reports said. The newspaper was forced to suspend its print edition in 2014, and now is distributed via social media. The outlet covers political trials, including proceedings against opposition politicians and journalists, co-founder of the Zone 9 blogging collective Soleyana S. Gebremichael told CPJ. It reported on calls by the Blue Party and the Oromo Federalist Party for a public demonstration to be held in late 2015, but for which authorities denied permission.
An Ethiopian journalist living in exile in Nairobi, who requested anonymity to due to fears of retaliation from Ethiopian authorities, told CPJ his contacts in Ethiopia indicated that Getachew was transferred to Kality prison, which hosts political prisoners, including several journalists. CPJ could not confirm where Getachew was being held in late 2016. Another journalist arrested in the same crackdown, Fikadu Mirkana, was charged under Ethiopia’s anti-terror laws and released in April 2016, when charges were dropped, according to civil society campaign group, East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project.