Corrected Update: Police requests court in Addis Ababa for group of bloggers, journalists to remain in custody

Detainees not seen by friends, family members so far  

Mahlet Fasil

The police have requested a court in Addis Abeba for a group of six bloggers writing for Zone9 and three journalists detained by security forces on Friday April 25th and Saturday April 26th to remain in custody until further investigations were conducted.  

Friends of the detainees were told this morning at the Ma’ekelawi, the central investigation office where the detainees were are kept since Friday a remand request were already filed against the detainees on Sunday April 27th. According to journalist Lily Yekoye, who is at the Arada First Instance Court First Bench where the remand requests were filed, the police accused the detainees of accepting money and working with foreign organizations and rights activists and using social media to destabilize the country and that it request the court for more days to establish evidence supporting its claim.

Tesfalem Waldyes

Journalist Tesfalem Waldyes

Accordingly, prominent journalist Tesfalem Wadyes, who was freelancing for the weekly English Fortune and the monthly Addis Standard, journalist Asmamaw Hailegiorgis, senior editor at an influential Amharic weekly magazine Addis Guday, and Zelalem Kibret, a lecturer at Ambo University were all listed in one file and would appear in court on May 7th; Atnaf Berhane, IT professional, Edom Kassaye, who previously worked at state daily Addis Zemen Newspaper and an active member of the Ethiopian Environmental Journalists Association (EEJA) and a close associate of Zone9 bloggers, and Natnail Feleke from the Construction and Business Bank, were all listed in one file and would appear in court on May 8th; and Mahlet Fantahun, Data expert, Befekadu Hailu from St. Mary’s University College, and Abel Wabella, from Ethiopian Airlines were all listed in one file and would appear in court the same day on May 8th.  

Edom Kassaye

Journalist Edom Kassaye

Social media hit Zone9 blog was created nearly two years ago by the group, who were writing with a motto “we blog because we care.” However, the website was immediately blocked and the group turned into facebook to post their writings, which became a sensation for its substance and insightful criticism of the government in Ethiopia. The group has also conducted four successful campaigns using twitter and facebook on four different topics, one of them “respect for the constitution.” However, Zone9 has ceased operating for the last seven months after what its members said was a growing harassment against some of its members. Two days before the mass arrest of the group members Zone9 re-started blogging using its facebook page.

Asmamaw Haile Giorgis

Journalist Asmamaw Hailegiorgis

Meanwhile, friends and family members are still unable to have any contact with the detainees.  

ED’s Note: earlier we have reported that charges were filed against all detainees. This is erroneous and we would like to clarify that the police have only requested the court for remanding the detainees in custody.  Sorry!

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