Prison term: 5 years
Held at: Kality Prison
Reeyot Alemu was one of the first journalists arrested in a 2011 crackdown on dissent as authorities feared a popular uprising inspired by the Arab Spring. In January 2012, she was sentenced to 14 years in prison on trumped-up terrorism charges, but the term was reduced on appeal a few months later to five years. CPJ believes her conviction is in connection with critical columns she wrote for the leading independent weekly Feteh. Authorities threatened Reeyot with solitary confinement and she waged a hunger strike to protest restrictions on visits from family and friends. Her health has deteriorated severely in prison, but she is pursuing an international legal appeal against her conviction.
In 2013, Reeyot was awarded the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize in recognition of her courage and commitment to freedom of expression. In 2012, she received the Courage in Journalism Award by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF).
Key fact: Almost 60 percent of journalists behind bars in 2013 were jailed on anti-state charges such as subversion or terrorism.
On World Press Freedom Day, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is highlighting 10 emblematic cases of journalists in prison, silenced by authorities in retaliation for their work. CPJ is calling on authorities to release these journalists, as well as all others being held in relation to their work.
Add your voice to this campaign. Send messages of support for jailed journalists with the #FreeThePress hashtag and call on authorities in repressive countries to release all journalists held for no other crime than covering issues in the public interest.
Click here to read more about 10 emblematic cases of journalists in prison and take action to free them:
- Avaz Zeynally, Azerbaijan
- Ahmed Humaidan, Bahrain
- Ilham Tohti, China
- Mahmoud Abou Zeid, Egypt
- Dawit Isaac, Eritrea
- Reeyot Alemu, Ethiopia
- Siamak Ghaderi, Iran
- Fusün Erdoğan, Turkey
- Muhammad Bekjanov, Uzbekistan
- Nguyen Van Hai (Dieu Cay), Vietnam
Uzbek editor Muhammad Bekjanov has been in jail for 15 years, one of the longest imprisonments of journalists worldwide. Prominent Iranian journalist Siamak Ghaderi was imprisoned in 2010 and has been beaten and whipped in custody. Vietnamese blogger Nguyen Van Hai, serving a 12-year jail term, could barely walk or talk during a prison visit in July 2013, his family said.
Bekjanov, Ghaderi, and Hai were convicted on anti-state charges, an allegation used frequently by authoritarian regimes seeking to silence critical news coverage, according to CPJ. CPJ research has documented a rise in the jailing of journalists since 2000, a year before the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States fueled the global expansion of anti-terrorism and national security laws. Governments have exploited these laws to silence critical journalists covering sensitive issues such as insurgencies, political opposition, and ethnic minorities.
Of the 211 journalists in jail at the time of CPJ’s most recent prison census, 124, or 60 percent, were jailed on anti-state charges—far more than jailed on any other type of charge.
Free the Press! Release all jailed journalists on World Press Freedom Day – IFEX.
The arrest of nine bloggers and journalists in Ethiopia just days before World Press Freedom Day on 3 May once again highlights PEN International’s concerns for freedom of expression in the country. PEN recalls with dismay that last year Ethiopia’s Supreme Court marked World Press Freedom Day by upholding journalist Eskinder Nega’s 18-year prison sentence on highly dubious terrorism related charges; he and at least four other journalists remain in prison in Ethiopia on similar charges.
Ahead of World Press Freedom Day and the second Universal Periodic Review of Ethiopia at the UN on 6 May where the country’s human rights record will be reviewed, PEN reiterates its calls on the Ethiopian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all independent journalists, bloggers and activists held for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of opinion, expression and association. It also calls on the authorities to repeal or amend its anti-terrorism and media laws, which are frequently used to harass journalists and curb free expression in the country.
Continue reading “PEN International calls for the release of Ethiopian bloggers and journalists PEN International”