Ethiopia: Court convicts politician of Facebook “terrorism”


Yonatan Tesfaye

ESAT News (May 16, 2017)

A court in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa found opposition politician Yonatan Tesfaye “guilty” of terrorism due to Facebook comments he made during the anti-government protests a year ago.

Yonatan Tesfaye was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party. International rights groups, including Amnesty International decry the charges against Yonatan were cooked up by the regime that uses the country’s anti-terror law to silence dissidents and journalists.

“Terrorism verdict for Facebook posts is a shameful affront to freedom of expression,” Amnesty International said today.

“Today’s verdict is a miscarriage of justice. It is yet another example of how the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation is used to target and destroy people who criticize the government,” the rights watchdog says.

Yonatan was arrested in December 2015 at the peak of the protests. He  was denied bail. The court will pass its sentence later this month.

The U.S. State Department and other independent institutions describe  Ethiopian courts in their annual reports as instruments of the oppressive regime.

Meanwhile, the court yesterday once again postponed its proceedings on the case of Oromo opposition political leader Bekele Gerba et al, who were also charged with “terrorism.” Judges say they have yet to receive audio/video evidence brought against Bekele Gerba. The said evidence is speeches made by Gerba in meetings in the U.S. with the Oromo community where he spoke about the importance of peaceful struggle to change the country for the better.