[JURIST] Five Ethiopian bloggers on Friday were acquitted of terrorism charges relating to publications on their website [Zone9, in Amharic]. The publications, critical of the government, landed nine bloggers in jail, and one charged in absentia, in April 2014, for violation of Ethiopia’s broad anti-terrorism laws [text]. In July five bloggers were unexpectedly released after being cleared by the court. On Friday the court announced that documents provided by prosecutors were insufficient to prove terrorism, leading to the release of four bloggers. Although cleared of terrorism charges, one blogger remains detained on charges of inciting violence. The releases come as a surprise for a nation ranked [Freedom House report] as one of the world’s least free.
Journalism is one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, with more than 1,000 journalists killed since 1992 and more than 200 journalists imprisoned [CPJ factsheets]. In the wake of Ethiopia’s jailing of the Zone 9 bloggers [JURIST report], HRW repeatedly called upon the Ethiopian government to repeal its anti-terrorism law, alleging that it stifles the establishment of new media publications [HRW report]. Violence against journalists is not limited to Ethiopia however, as in July 2014 Amnesty International reported [JURIST report] mounting evidence of abductions and violence against activists, protesters and journalists in eastern Ukraine. Later that month a Myanmar court sentenced [JURIST report] four journalists and the chief executive of the Unity Journal to 10-year prison sentences and hard labor for publishing a story alleging the Myanmar military had seized land in Magwe for the purpose of producing chemical weapons.