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News: Despite calls for release court grants police more days to remand, investigate AP journalists for third time

AP freelance journalist Amir Aman, left, and cameraman Thomas Engida. Picture: Social Media/federal Police/Archive

MahletFasil @MahletFasil

Addis Abeba – Investigating police in Addis Abeba were given 11 more days today by the 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 investigating police asked the court for additional 14 days, but were given 11 days instead. Police told the court that they didn’t receive the response to the letter sent to the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS) for more report on the journalists. The rest of the investigations were already completed but that they were waiting for NISS to send additional information the the “technical evidence” sought by the investigating police against the journalists. The police also said that members of the federal police were sent to Ambo city in West Shewa zone of Oromia regional state to apprehend other suspects sought in connection with the arrest of the journalists.

The defense team argued against the police’s request for more days on the grounds that the investigation did not materialize in anything new other than what the police stated during the previous two hearings and that the new information about the dispatching of police officers to Ambo has nothing to do with their clients. The defense therefor asked the court to reject the request for more days and release their clients on bail, which was overruled by the judges.

During the hearing on March 7 the police requested 14 days to complete police investigations to work on During previous hearings, the police said that the works sending electronic devices taken from the journalists to the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISS) for investigation were already completed and that they were waiting for NISS to send additional “technical evidence” against the journalists.

On 11 March, the Associated Press marked 100 days of the detention by calling for their release. Speaking to the AP. Muthoki Mumo, sub-Saharan Africa representative with the Committee to Protect Journalists, said “it cannot be any clearer that authorities have no case against Amir Amar Kiyaro and Thomas Engida.” Terara Network editor Temerat Negara also remains behind bars in Ethiopia’s Oromia region and faces allegations that include incitement and defamation of officials, Mumo said.

Similarly, Jen Judson, president of the National Press Club, and Gil Klein, president of the National Press Club Journalism Institute, issued a statement on 14 March calling for the immediate release of all the three.

The court adjourned the next hearing on journalist Amir Aman and cameraman Thomas Engida until 29 March. AS

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