I'm standing for real freedom. I regard freedom of expression as the primary right without which one can not have a proper functioning democracy.

Ethiopia detains online activists

Ethiopian government has detained several opposition activists and bloggers, according to sources close the detainees.

The list of detainees reportedly includes a group of opposition bloggers who collectively blog under the name Zone Nine and another freelancer journalist – all Ethiopian citizens.

According to the information available so far, bloggers and social media activists Atnaf Berahane,Befeqadu Hailu, Mahlet Fantahun. Natnael Feleke and Abel Wabela and Zelalem Kiberet are among the detainees. In addition, Tesfalem Weldeyest a freelancer journalist who writes to Addis Standard magazine and Addis Fortune newspaper.

It was learnt that the police provided court warrants to the bosses of at least two of the detainees: That is: To the managers of the Construction and Business bank in the case of Natnael Feleke and to the vice President of Ambo University in the case of Zelalem Kiberet.

However, it was not possible to know the contents of the warrants at the time of this writing.

It is virtually impossible to acquire further information at this time of the night and government officials have been unresponsive to SMS queries.

The detention caught many by surprise as the Zone Nine bloggers have been less active in the past months, except for their activity on twitter. Similarly, Tesfalem Weldeyes have been mostly covering developmental projects, though he used twitter to air his opinion.

The government of Ethiopia is often criticized of over-reacting, by observers. A case in point is Reeyot Alemu whose case should have been treated leniently if prosecution was necessary at all.

One hopes the more intelligent in the leadership circle will fix this bizarre incident at the earliest possible opportunity.


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