A freelance video journalist working for the Associated Press (AP) has been arrested in Ethiopia, a country at war for more than a year, the US news agency and state media reported on Wednesday (December 15th). AP called for the immediate release of Amir Aman Kiyaro, who was arrested in the capital, Addis Ababa, on November 28, after a report returned.
Journalists working in Ethiopia face severe restrictions under the government’s national state of emergency in November, mired in a thirteen-month war with rebels in the northern Tigray region. from the country.
Two other local journalists, identified by state media as Thomas Engida and Addisu Mulneh, were also arrested. Images of the three men, along with their identity cards, were released by state media in a video report of their arrest.
“The Associated Press is extremely concerned that one of our freelancers, Amir Aman Kiyaro, has been detained by the Ethiopian government and accused of promoting terrorism”, AP vice president and editor Julie Pace said in a statement. “These allegations are baseless. Kiyaro is a freelance journalist who has done important work in Ethiopia on all sides of the conflict. We call on the Ethiopian government to release Kiyaro immediately. “
An Ethiopian police inspector, Tesfaye Olani, accused the three journalists of breaking state of emergency laws by seeking to disseminate “Propaganda” on the Popular Front for the Liberation of Tigray (TPLF), and its ally, the Oromo Liberation Army (OLA), which is fighting government forces. He said their actions could be punished with prison terms ranging from seven to fifteen years. Much of the conflict-affected area in northern Ethiopia is under a communications blackout and journalists’ access is restricted.
At the end of November, Ethiopia announced new restrictions under the state of emergency, prohibiting the release of unofficial information on troop movements and the evolution of the balance of power in the country. terrain, a directive interpreted as an attempt to further restrict media coverage of the war.
The government has also banned the population “To use various types of media platforms to directly or indirectly support the terrorist group” with reference to the TPLF.
Meanwhile, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC), an organization attached to the government, said on Wednesday that it was monitoring the situation of four other local journalists detained, including two of whom it does not know where they are.
In a statement on Twitter, she demanded that their families and lawyers be immediately informed of the whereabouts of the two detainees and that they be guaranteed visiting rights.
“The committee also reiterates that the competent authorities must closely monitor that the declaration of a state of emergency is implemented in a manner which strictly respects the principles of human rights”, she said.
Nine journalists were detained in Ethiopia in 2021, according to a report released last week by the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
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In Ethiopia, Freelance Associated Press Journalist Arrested