Addis Abeba – The Police in Addis Abeba were given nine more days today by Federal First Instance Court, Arada Branch to remand and investigate journalist Amir Aman and cameraman Thomas Engida, who were working for Associated Press (AP) by the time of their arrest in December last year. The police have initially requested 14 more days to complete police investigation. But the court granted the nine days.
In mid-December last year, the federal police commission announced that it arrested two journalists and a cameraman for allegedly promoting the Oromo Liberation Army, (OLA) on an international level. “The journalists who were paid large sums of money to promote Shanee (a term used by government officials to refer to OLA) in the West Showa zone are being investigated under police custody,” the statement reads. Addisu Muluneh, who was working with ruling party affiliated FanaBC by the time of his arrest, has since been released.
The police further said today that the journalists were arrested due to their physical contacts and phone communication with members of OLA, a rebel group engaged in military conflict with the regional and federal forces and has been branded “a terrorist group” by the Ethiopian parliament. The police accused the journalists of speaking with members of the rebel group and sending recorded materials that depict wrong message about Ethiopia to different European countries.
Investigating police also told the court that the police had conducted various investigations since the detention, received a statement from the detainees, and sent their electronic belongings to the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS) for further investigations; the police also said they have asked NISS for more technical evidence against the detainees.
Defendant’s attorneys, for their part, argued the date requested by the police should not be given because their clients were detained for doing their job as journalists. They also told the court that the police were already preparing to mount charges against their clients based on a documentary film broadcast on state media incriminating their clients who are innocent and were only detained for doing their jobs. AS