Sixteen members of the European parliament have called on Ethiopia’s prime minster, Hailemariam Desalegn, to free the jailed journalist and blogger Eskinder Nega.
He was arrested in 2011 and sentenced in July this year to 18 years in prison under the country’s broad anti-terrorism proclamation. An appeal hearing is scheduled for tomorrow (19 December).
He had written online articles and also spoken publicly about the possibility of an Arab spring-like movement taking place in Ethiopia. After his trial, the government initiated proceedings to seize his assets, including the home where his wife and young son live.
The letter from the MEPs, who are drawn from across the political spectrum, begins by registering “our grave concern” at Nega’s detention.
It notes that the Ethiopian government has an obligation to uphold the right to free expression, and it tells the newly-elected prime minister that he has “the unique opportunity to lead Ethiopia forward on human rightsand bring the country fully within the community of nations.”
It closes by urging Desalegn to take all measures within his power “to facilitate the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Nega.”
Among the signatories are three British MEPs – Charles Tannock, Conservative (London); Fiona Hall, Lib-Dem (north east England) and David Martin, Labour (Scotland).
Source: Freedom Now