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.
- 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)