Zuma, former publisher and editor-in-chief of the defunct Amharic-language weekly Atkurot, was arrested and imprisoned on charges of failing to pay a publishing license fee, inciting violence or rebellion, and defamation. All three are crimes under the Ethiopian Press Proclamation.
The first charge stemmed from a licensing requirement. Strapped for cash, Zuma was unable to pay the fee to renew his annual publishing license. In the second case, Zuma is accused of inciting people to violence or rebellion, a charge resulting from a recent Atkurot article that quoted an interview from the U.S.-based magazine Ethiopian Review. In it, a former official in dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam’s Derg regime, Gen. Haile Meles, predicted the imminent overthrow of the current Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front government.
The third case is a defamation charge resulting from an Atkurot article that reported on financial mismanagement at a government-owned leather factory. As of December 31, Zuma remained in jail. In October, a CPJ delegation visited the journalist during a fact-finding mission to Ethiopia.