Awramba Times (Addis Ababa) – The Ethiopian Supreme court on Thursday dismissed the appeal of an Award-winning journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega and opposition leader Andualem Arage who were jailed on trumped-up terrorism charges since September 2011.
“The sentencing is still correct so there is no reduction,” said Supreme Court judge Dagne Melaku, confirming the blogger’s jail term of 18 years and Andualem Arage’s life sentence. The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has condemned the ruling.
“This ruling trivializes the serious crime of terrorism, upholds a politically motivated travesty of justice, and lessens Ethiopia’s international standing,” Said CPJ Africa Advocacy Coordinator Mohamed Keita.
Eskinder made an emotional appeal to the court which was crowded with Journalists, family, friends and diplomats.
“The truth will set us free,” Eskinder said. “We want the Ethiopian public to know that the truth will reveal itself, it’s only a matter of time.”Both Eskinder and Andualem are accused of links to a lesser-known, US based opposition group Ginbot 7. “Ginbot 7 had no authority over Eskinder’s constitutional right” Eskinder’s wife, journalist Serkalem fasil told Awramba Times. “Eskinder’s only crime was loving his country”.
Defence lawyer Abebe Guta told journalists that justice had not been served, and that if his clients agreed, they would appeal to court of cassation (Seber-Semi chilot), Ethiopia’s highest court.
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other rights groups have called Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation vague and accuse the government of using the law to stifle Journalists and peaceful dissent.
“As a member of the U.N. Human Rights Council, Ethiopia should comply with its obligations under international law and its own constitution and release Eskinder unconditionally. The persecution of Eskinder and other journalists is the hallmark of a regime fearful of the opinions of its citizens.” CPJ’s Mohamed Keita added.