A court in Ethiopia sentenced six journalists on terrorism charges, with one receiving an 18-year jail term while the five others who live in exile were sentenced in absentia, getting eight years to life.
The journalist who received the 18-year sentence, Eskinder Nega, was accused by an Ethiopian judge of taking part in the terrorist organization Ginbot 7, reported Ethiopia-based NewsDire. The group is a U.S.-based organization that the Ethiopian government designated a terrorist group in 2011.
“The court has given due considerations to the charges, and the sentences are appropriate,” presiding Judge Endeshaw Adane said on July 13, according to Reuters.
The sentence was condemned by the Committee to Protect Journalists. “The Ethiopian government is using the fight against terrorism as a cover to silence peaceful voices of dissent,” it said in a statement.
Abebe Gelaw, who works with the U.S.-based Addis Voice, and Abebe Belew, who works for an Internet radio station and lives in the United States, also received 15-year sentences, NewsDine reported.
Mesfin Negash and Abiye Teklemariam, who live in exile, received eight-year sentences for making information public about Ginbot 7.
Defense lawyer Abebe Guta told AFP that his clients received an unfair trial and would appeal the sentence.“In my personal opinion, we rebutted the prosecution’s evidence beyond reasonable doubt. I think it’s been not reasonably considered,” he was quoted as saying.