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News: Journalist Meaza Mohammed, author Asaye Derbe released on bail; court reverses bail for journalist Gobeze Sisay

Meaza Mohammed and Asaye Derbe , left and center, were released on bail yesterday. But federal court reversed the earlier decision granting bail to Gobeze Sisya, right.

By Biruk Alemu @Birukalemu21

Addis Abeba: Journalist Meaz Mohammed and author and activist Asaye Derbe were released on Thursday 13 October on a bail of 10,000 ETB each. However, at a hearing held today, federal judges at the Supreme Court denied journalist Gobeze Sisay the right for bail, his lawyer Henok Aklilu told Addis Standard.

During previous hearing, Amhara Voice internet based media owner and founder journalist Gobeze Sisay was granted a bail for 20,000 ETB, but was banned from leaving the country, and his release from detention was delayed until after the immigration procedure was completed. However, in today’s hearing, the Supreme Court reversed the bail grant and rescheduled another hearing, according to Henok.

The release on bail of Meaza and Asaye itself came a week after the Federal High Court granted the bail. It was last week, on 07 October that the Federal High Court’s Lideta criminal division trial decided to ruled to release all three defendants on bail. But “the police told us that they cannot release them because the prosecutor was appealing at the federal Supreme Court”, which resulted in the defendants being held in custody for a week.

Commissioner Tesfaye Ashine, head of the Federal Police’s anti-terrorist crime investigation unit and Commissioner Zeleman Mengste, the Federal Police Deputy Commissioner were asked by the court to appear during the hearing on October 13 and provide justifications for keeping the defendants in custody after bail was granted. Both failed to appear at the court, and the two defendants were eventually released from custody.

The Federal prosecutor has filed multiple criminal charges against journalists Gobeze Sisay, Meaza Mohammed as well as author and activist Asaye Deribe, who has been detained since mid-September. The details of the charges, which were filed at the federal court on Friday 30 September, include provisions of allegedly “spreading false rumor” and disclosing the army’s battlefield locations “to the enemy and the public.”

Accordingly, journalist Gobeze Sisay, who was re-detained by the federal police on 08 September, and who is the 1st defendant, is facing accusations of appearing on a Twitter Space hosted by an account called “Amhara Perspective” and making a speech that the public was against the national defense forces.

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He is accused of saying that the youth do not want to be on the side of the government and stating that the public desires to see the T.P.L.F back in the capital Addis Ababa.

The charge accuses Gobeze of sending out information that undermines the public’s confidence on the defense capacity of the government and working to create ideas that harm the good relationship between the people and the army.

It also accuses him of posting on his personal Facebook account saying: “in the current war, the leaders of Fano, Mere Wadajo and Demle Aragawu, who are fighting against the TPLF, have survived after being shot from behind repeatedly. In this situation, there are youths who question “how can I trust the government and go to war?”

Second defendant Asaye Deribe and third defendant Meaza Mohammed are accused of spreading false rumors to the public. The Ministry says, in an interview on August 25 given to Roha Media, Meaza Mohammed through a media she manages say “It is possible to end the war. The problem is not that we have an enemy that is not ready to be defeated, but that we have a government that is not interested”. 

Meaza Mohammed, owner and managing director of a YouTube based media channel “Roha Media” was arrested on September 08, hours after security forces re-detained journalist Gobeze Sisay of “The Voice of Amhara”, another YouTube based media. 

Meaza is being detained for the third time.

while Gobeze’s detention is for the second time in as many months.

Gobeze was released on May 9th of this year around 9 PM local time after he was reported missing in action for 9 days following his arrest on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

He had recently traveled to the Amhara region after the ongoing militarized hostilities between the federal army along with Amhara region security forces and the Tigrayan forces resumed on 24 August. 

He gave multiple interviews and wrote on his Facebook page criticizing the ruling Prosperity Party. On his personal Facebook page, Gobeze wrote that “The Amhara people, especially those who share administrative borders with the Tigray region, are tired of the war’s relapsing and causing death and displacement.” He claimed that there are farmers who are saying they don’t want the war, nor to be asked to take part in the fighting. 

This is the third time for Meaza to be detained by security forces. She was first arrested while on her way to work by plain clothed security forces more in the first week of December 2021r. Meaza, who previously worked at Abay media, was released on 18 January this year after having been detained for more than a month without appearing in court of law, leading to her defense team to file habeas corpus at the Federal First Instance court 2nd bench. She was detained while on her way to work by plain clothed security forces in the first week of December last year. AS

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