Eskinder Nega is a prominent Ethiopian journalist who was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison on terrorism charges. Prior to his imprisonment, Nega published an online column criticizing the prosecution of journalists and dissidents under Ethiopia’s overly-broad 2009 Anti-Terrorism Proclamation and called for an end to politically motivated prosecutions. In the months prior to his arrest, he wrote about the government’s use of terrorism laws to silence dissent, the use of torture in prisons and the possibility of an Arab Spring-like democracy movement in Ethiopia.
Nega was convicted on terrorism charges on June 27, 2012 and the court sentenced him to 18 years in prison on July 13, 2012. After postponing his appeal numerous times, the Ethiopian Federal Supreme Court upheld Nega’s conviction and sentencing on May 2, 2013. One of the charges against him, “serving as a leader of a terrorist group” was dropped, but had no affect on sentencing.
He received the 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom awarded by the World Association of Newspaper and News Publishers. In May 2012, PEN awarded him its 2012 Freedom to Write Award for his role as an advocate for freedom of the press and freedom of expression in Ethiopia. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found his detention illegal under international law and called for his immediate release.
Eskinder Nega has been RELEASED.
- Nega was awarded the Press Freedom Hero award by the International Press Institute (IPI) at the organization's world congress in Hungary. (May 22, 2017, Doha Center for Media Freedom)
- The state-affiliated media organisation FanaBC is reporting that the Ethiopian government pardoned 746 Prisoners, including Eskinder Nega. (February 8, 2018, AllAfrica.com)
- Nega has refused to sign a letter of pardon from the government, holding up his planned release. "They [Nega and two other opposition figures] were asked to sign a form saying they are members of the Ginbot 7 movement [a political organization banned in Ethiopia] as a precondition for their release," Nega's wife, Serkalem Facil, said. "Eskinder refused to sign the form, saying that he is not a member of the organization. So, I know there is no deal." (February 9, 2018, Voice of America)
- Ethiopian journalist and blogger, Eskinder Nega has finally been released from a prison facility after seven years in jail. His release comes barely a week after reportedly refused to sign a ‘false confession form’ in exchange for his liberty. (February 14, 2018, africanews.com)
- In a statement written shortly after his release from prison, Eskinder Nega thanks "family, friends, fellow journalists and human rights activists, Ethiopians, the diaspora and international community" for their "perseverance and solidarity," and reaffirms his commitment to the cause of democracy. (February 15, 2018, PEN America)