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Ethiopian Journalist Alleges Detention for Inciting Egypt-Style Protests
By Peter Heinlein | Addis Ababa
An Ethiopian journalist says he was detained and harassed by federal police after comparing conditions in Ethiopia to those in North African states hit by people power protests.
Journalist Eskinder Nega says six heavily-armed policemen jumped from a truck on a busy central Addis Ababa street last week, grabbed him and whisked him away to federal police headquarters. He says during a two-hour detention, he was brought before a deputy police commissioner who did not identify himself, but who warned him his activities were considered seditious.
"He said, 'You've been trying to incite Egyptian and Tunisian-like protests in Ethiopia through writings you do on the Internet,” Eskinder recounted. “And the interviews you give to various news outlets. And he said, 'Nothing similar is going to happen in this country.'"
Federal police officials would not speak on the record about the incident. But when two journalists went to the office of the deputy director general of police, a senior official who would not identify himself said he was 100 percent sure his officers had not detained Eskinder.
Other senior Ethiopian officials contacted by VOA said they were not aware of the case. But they noted Eskinder Nega is considered an anti-government political activist, not a journalist.
Eskinder and his newspaper publisher wife, Serkalem Fasil, were among hundreds jailed in connection with Ethiopia's 2005 post-election violence. They spent 17 months behind bars before treason charges against them were dropped. But after being freed, their newspapers were banned and their applications for press accreditation denied.
Since then, Eskinder has continued to write and comment on political affairs. His columns are published on Internet websites based overseas, where the tone of the commentary is generally anti-government. Those websites are blocked in Ethiopia, however, along with the VOAnews.com site.
Eskinder Nega says a recent interview with VOA's Amharic language service was among issues raised by police during his recent detention.
"I did an interview with VOA and the interviewer wanted to know if the lack of a strong opposition would in any way affect the prospect of protests breaking out in Ethiopia,” Eskinder said. “My response said the same thing is true of Tunisia and Egypt. There [was] a complete absence of a strong opposition in those countries and that did not prevent the youth from organizing protests because the people wanted change."
Police officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, ridiculed the suggestion that any Ethiopian would be detained for comments such as those made by Eskinder Nega.
One pointed out that a private Ethiopian newspaper has published even stronger remarks by opposition political leaders. The officer said, "This whole matter is not an issue on our side. We know what the problems are in Tunisia and Egypt, and what ours are."
Ethiopia's state-run media have provided limited coverage of the popular uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East. But random surveys suggest a general awareness of events.
Many report getting news from VOA, the only international service broadcasting over short wave radio and satellite in three of Ethiopia's main languages, Amharic, Afan Oromo and Tigrigna.
It is not only appropriate to detain him but also to charge him and jail him. This is a guy who is advocating the use of VIOLENCE to overturn the election result.
Eskinder Nega is Not Journalist but a donkey activist similar to Tamagn
Let’s get that straight First.
He belongs in kalati or DC
This nis not news but hearsay(alubalta). Go back and check the article and try to find any facts. You find nothing!!
God Bless Ethiopia!!
Woyannes your end is near. I remember every curs you have spoken to insult us, everything is in a recored book. Your like have no place in That blessed land Ethiopia. I hate to be you blood suckers Tegares. You will be dealt with once and for all.
GOD bless Ethiopia and her poor people.
Both melles Zenawi and emiye Ethiopia’s demise is inevitable. We have to calculate what follows next and how to get there quickly.
. . .your words reflected how ugly your mind same as your thug, tyrant and evil master. . . .
. . .did you think by sending him in the prison all the things will cease?. . . .you are stupid midget!.
. . .the resistance will continue!!!
first you say “hate to be you blood suckers Tegares” then “GOD bless Ethiopia and her poor people” you can’t put the two together FOOL. Stupid racist idiot your blaming tplf for it’s racist ethnic policies BUT LOOK AT YOURSELF! LOOK AT YOUR ETHNIC HATING RACIST SELF! Gimatam ahiya. I hate hypocrites.
Many in opposition are like this. As such, there is currently no credible Ethiopian leadership other than the EPRDF which has the nation in the right direction.
As predictable, the extremists elements in the opposition are trying to get some press with a fabrication.
ኢትዮጵያ ለዘላለም ትኑር
Eskindir Nega, Brihanu Nega—is there a connection here or…..? Eskindir, nice try! May be now the Office of US immigration will grant you an easy assylum. That is what most of you losers do anyway!
With all your crap, let me ask you a question! Are you going to be in the for front when the poor Ethiopian youngs go out to the Meskel Square? Or are you staying at home like you did last time and wright about it latter and claim that you are the hero? That is what you all cowards do. You may pretend like a brave, but you are actually a chicken sh…T. So, Eskinder and the like: please give me a break, do not make me waste my time writing/reading about scum like you.
most non tigray -eprdf members or supporters they support meles zenawi not because of he is from tigray..but all tigray ppl support him because of he is from tigray and they are the same tigrea…you see how tebab these ppl r
you smell me..?
eskindr naga is anti- ethiopea. like tamagn. we are not looking for fight or war right now in ethiopea. what we need is peace and hard work to change our people life!!
god bless ethiopea
tsunami tunisia is going 2hit ethiopia anytime soon. Either we like it or not. dictators era is gone. We need change. Pm. Meles thank u, u tried ur best, but it doesnt work. Pls go to ur hiding werever it is. Wé need change & yes we can. Dirty poleticians, still u have time to wash ur sin. Tsunami tunisia is onto you. People power is God’s power!!!
you woyane dirty ethnic tigres you will illuminated once and for all from Ethiopian land and you well be stashed in that dry and rocky tigray of yours,the Ethiopian people don’t want to count you one of the Ethiopia’s ethnic group,death to all tigres.
This man must have been hanged 3 years ago.
Meles is the devil in flesh and his days are numbered. Look at his face, he is the ugliest monkey in this planet.
Mot to Meles and his hodam supporters!
woyane…..time for you to freak out…..very close…..if i am a tigre…it is a time to freak out now
Eskinder nega is dying for attention. He is using his freedom and democracy in the country to get personal fame. I call on Ethiopian govt to detain him and do formal investigation. He is working for the enemys of Ethiopia. Enough is enough!!
Ethiopian police can smell a no-gooder miles away and took the right actions against him. Had it been 22 years back he would have been riddled with bullets and thrown half naked on the street for all to see.
You need to report the news on time.This incident happened a week ago and has been reported by other Ethiopian webSites and the VOA.
I know this guy. He is not a journalist and he had never claimed to be one. Only recently he has been trying to disguise as an objective journalist by scribbling a couple of scribbles. He is rather a fierce fighter against the regime.
He has a very strong hatred towards Tigreans and he firmly believes power should be in the hands of the Amhara. He doesn’t care about the amount and the type of price that should be paid to overthrow this government. He is always ready to pay the necessary sacrifice if the need arises. He is a very dangerous man if he gets the chance.
Himself a dictator like the so called cyber journalists Elias Kifle and Abrha Belay, he is waiting for an opportunity to take power and kill mercilessly.
People, please beware of the hoodwink by these power mongers. They are roaming around in search of eating people alive. They are the wolves in sheep skin.
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