PRESS RELEASE: AMI welcomes release of five Ethiopian journalists and bloggers from custody

The African Media Initiative (AMI) welcomes news of the release this week from prison in Ethiopia of three journalists and two bloggers, who had been incarcerated on charges of incitement and terrorism.

AMI further welcomes the Ethiopian government’s reported decision to drop all charges against the five – Asmamaw Hailegiorgis, Edom Kassaye, Tesfalem Waldyes, Mahlet Fantahun and Zelalem Kibret – all of whom were arrested in April last year. The organization calls on the Ethiopian government to release bloggers Abel Wabella, Atnaf Berhane, Befekadu Hailu, and Natnail Feleke arrested alongside the freed group, and who so far remain in custody.

Speaking about the release, AMI’s Chief Executive Officer Eric Chinje said: “In 2013 AMI held its annual event, the African Media Leaders Forum, in Addis Ababa, and seized that opportunity to engage the Ethiopian government on its press freedom violations. It’s our hope that the release of the journalists and bloggers is an indication of a sea of change that will lead to the establishment of a more enabling and conducive environment for journalists to work in.”

He added: “Governments would do well to appreciate that journalists are never the enemy; rather, it’s the ignorance of their role as partners in development that is.” AMI is working to address this important issue in the hope of narrowing the gap between media content and the development agendas of countries in Africa.

AMI will also continue working with its partners and associates for the release of all other media workers who have fallen afoul of the Ethiopian and other governments on the continent for simply doing their legitimate work.

ABOUT AMI

The African Media Initiative (AMI) is a pan-African organization that seeks to strengthen the continent’s private and independent media sector from an owner and operator perspective to promote democratic governance, social development and economic growth.

It does so through a set of strategic activities aimed at transforming the media and communications landscape on the continent. AMI’s overall goal is to promote the development of pluralistic media as a necessary and critical ingredient of democratic governance, as well as economic and human development in Africa.