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#ASDailyScoop: CPJ demands unconditional release of Meskerem Abera, cease harassment on members of press

Meskerem Abera. Photo: Ethio Niqat/AS-Screenshot

Addis Abeba – Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Tuesday “Ethiopian police should unconditionally release online journalist Meskerem Abera and cease harassing members of the press.”

The Federal Police in Addis Abeba detained Meskerem Abera, founder and owner of “Ethio Niqat“, a YouTube based media where she frequently appears, on 14 December. Her lawyer Solomon Gezahegn told Addis Standard that Meskerem was brought to a federal court on 15 December where the police was granted 14 days to remand and investigate her on allegations of multiple offenses.

According to Solomon, the federal police is seeking to indict Meskerem on charges of multiple offenses that include using social media and her own media “Ethio Niqat”, to undermine the government, divide nations against one another, cause mistrust in the National Defense Forces, use the controversial issue of Oromia’s anthem and flag in Addis Abeba schools to incite violence and instigating conflicts in the Gurage Zone.

“Meskerem has already lost weeks languishing in state custody. It is highly disappointing that she has been arrested again in connection with her work,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative. “Ethiopian authorities should release Meskerem without delay and discontinue any criminal proceedings against her. She should be allowed to continue her work without further interference.” 

On 21 May this year, Meskerem was detained by security forces at Addis Abeba Bole International Airport after touching down from a flight that took off in Bahir Dar. But, after several appearances, judges at the Federal First Instance Court, Arada Division appointment hearing bench granted her a bail for 30, 000 birr, resulting in her release from police custody. Before the court released her on bail, the police sought to charge her on criminal offenses including “inciting riots and creating mistrust between the Amhara region and the Federal government.” AS

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