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MEPs urged Hailemariam to free jailed journalist

Sixteen members of the European parliament wrote an open letter to Hailemariam Desalegn to free famed journalist Eskinder Nega, who has been sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Eskider was arrested in October 2011 and sentenced in July to 18 years in prison under the controversial anti-terrorism proclamation, which has been condemned by local and international advocacy groups.

The sixteen MEPs, including Ana Gomes, expressed their grave concern over the injustice that Eskinder has faced because of  his critical views against repressive government policies well reflected in his writings.

Eskinder, along with other journalists, was convicted of terrorism offenses after he predicted the inevitability of an Arab Spring type of revolution in Ethiopia.

“Unfortunately Mr. Nega is not alone—journalists Woubshet Taye and Reyot Alemu have also received long prison sentences on terror charges. In response to your government’s use of the 2009 Anti-Terror Proclamation against journalists and opposition leaders, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and five United Nations Special Rapporteurs—including the Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights—have all expressed alarm at this worrying trend,” the MEPs noted in their letter.

The MEPs called on the Ethiopian government to uphold their right to free expression and also urged Hailemariam  to make use of the opportunity to lead Ethiopia forward on human rights and bring the country fully within the community of nations.