Saturday, September 30, 2006

Ethiopian journalists defect after threats

Ethiopian journalists defect after threats Saturday 30 September 2006.
Sept 29, 2006 (ADDIS ABABA) – At least ten government journalists had defected to the US, Europe and Asia fearing persecution, subsequent to refusing orders to produce false stories about opposition Ethiopian parties, a report said.

According to the opposition OLF website, journalists of the government controlled media in Ethiopia, who refuses order from the authorities to "misinform the public are threatened to death".

The general manger of the official Ethiopian News Agency (ENA), Kefyalew Azeze, demands all government journalists "to produce false news" about the opposition Coalition for Unity and Democracy (CUD) party, defected journalists said. Dereje Tedla, journalist at the ENA and the Amharic daily Addis Zemen, who defected from Ethiopia to Japan, had been subjected to threats and intimidations by the Ethiopian security services.

In a letter written to, the independent Ethiopian Media Forum on Wednesday, 27 September, 2006, Dereje said "the Federal Police Officers came to his home On 25 November 2005, midnight and warned him to stop any opposition against the government, otherwise they were ready to kill him and all his family".

Known for their active role during May 2005 elections season, most of the independent newspapers are closed after a wide-ranging crackdown on political opposition by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government. Since November 2005, at least 16 Ethiopian journalists have been imprisoned, dozens more have gone into hiding and two foreign correspondents have been kicked out of the country.

Now only a handful of independent newspapers are still publishing in Ethiopia. The remaining papers were covering fewer domestic political stories and publishing less controversial business and feature stories.

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