National Press Club Expresses Outrage at Sentencing of Ethiopian Journalists

Jul 13, 2012, 14:16 ET from National Press Club

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Press Club condemned the sentencing Friday of Ethiopian journalists under an antiterrorism law that has become a cover for suppressing internal dissent and a free press.

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Among those sentenced was Eskinder Nega, an award winning writer, who is now poised to serve 18 years in jail under the vaguely written law. Five other exiled journalists and a blogger were sentenced in absentia to between 15 years to life. They formed part of a group of 20 opposition figures, journalists and bloggers who received similarly long terms.

"The Ethiopian authorities have disguised a crackdown on reporters and dissidents as a fight against terrorism, but clear-eyed observers see this repression for what it really is," said Theresa Werner, president of the National Press Club. "The harsh sentencing of Eskinder Nega and his colleagues is a miscarriage of justice, and it's one that we and other advocates of press freedom worldwide roundly condemn."

Nega has been imprisoned since last September after he posted an online column that called to account the Ethiopian government for its arrest of dissidents, use of torture in prisons and denial of freedom of expression rights. He has been jailed on at least seven different occasions in the last 20 years.

In May, Nega was awarded Pen America's annual Freedom to Write prize for his work.

The National Press Club, based in Washington, D.C., is the world's leading professional organization for journalists. The Club represents more than 3,000 members worldwide representing every major news organization. The Club was founded in 1908.

SOURCE National Press Club