Zone 9 blogger thrown in jail again


Befeqadu Hailu

ESAT News (November 11, 2016)

Security forces have reportedly taken into custody Befeqadu Hailu, known for his critical blogs against the repressive regime in Ethiopia.

ESAT sources said security forces in plain clothe came to the residence of the blogger at 6 a.m. on Friday and told him he is wanted by the command post for questioning. The Ethiopian regime had set up a command post to enforce the state of emergency declared last month, which bans, among others, blogging and making any critical comments against the regime.

Now, the government in Ethiopia has declared a ‘state of emergency’ that lasted for six months. As ‘the usual suspects’ because of our dissenting views, my friends and I are scared more than before. It has always been a risky business to criticize the government. Furthermore, this declaration has given the government the right to arrest us even without any excuse,” Befeqadu said in one of his blogs in October after the declaration of the martial law.

“They told him he is arrested for giving an interview to the Voice of America, Amharic service on October 31, 2016,” fellow blogger Zelalem Kibret tweeted on Friday.

Befeqadu and other members of the Zone 9 collective, a group of young bloggers, were jailed for a year and half and released on bail ahead of  U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Ethiopia last year.

The regime’s prosecutor appealed on the case of Befeqadu and he was due to appear before court on Tuesday.

Befeqadu and the Zone 9 collective are recipients of CPJ’s International Press Freedom Award and the prestigious Martin Ennals Award  for Human Rights Defenders.