PA-accredited freelance journalist detained in Ethiopia

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — An independent video journalist accredited to the Associated Press in Ethiopia has been arrested by police in the capital, Addis Ababa, the news agency said Wednesday.

Amir Aman Kiyaro was detained on November 28 under the country’s new war-related state of emergency powers after returning home from a reporting trip. He has not been charged.

Officials from the Ethiopian Media Authority, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other government offices have not responded to repeated requests from the PA for information about him since his detention. State media reported his detention on Wednesday, citing federal police, and said he was accused of “serving the purposes” of a terrorist group by interviewing him. The report says local journalists Thomas Engida and Addisu Muluneh were also arrested.

Federal Police Inspector Tesfaye Olani told state media that the journalists violated Ethiopia’s state of emergency law and anti-terrorism law and that such violations could result in seven to 15 years behind bars.

In a statement, AP editor Julie Pace called for Kiyaro’s release: “The Associated Press is extremely concerned that AP freelancer Amir Aman Kiyaro has been detained by the Ethiopian government, accused of promoting terrorism. These are baseless allegations. Kiyaro is a freelance journalist who has done significant work in Ethiopia on all sides of the conflict. We call on the Ethiopian government to release Kiyaro immediately.

She said the AP has so far opted to keep the matter out of public view while the news agency works out possible diplomatic avenues.

The Ethiopian government declared a state of emergency in November, which includes sweeping powers of detention, after a year of war as rival forces in the northern Tigray region, together with the Liberation Army of Oromo, have moved closer to the capital. This year, the government declared the Tigray forces and the OLA as terrorist groups.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in the war that broke out in November 2020. Tigray forces say they are pressuring the government to lift a deadly blockade on their region but also want Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to stand down. took of. Mediation efforts by the United States and the African Union for a ceasefire have made little progress.

Kiyaro has covered both sides of the war this year for the AP, including groundbreaking reporting on suspected mass killings by Tigray forces in the Chenna Teklehaymanot community after fighters moved in recent months in the neighboring region of Amhara in Ethiopia.

In late November, the country’s State of Emergency Command sought to restrict media reporting on the war, banning the sharing of unofficial information about “army-related movements, results and situations on forehead”. Foreign media were barred from Tigray for much of the war as communication links were cut.

The government-created Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said on Wednesday it was monitoring the situation of four other local journalists detained in recent weeks. Last month, he said he was alarmed by the conditions of detention of perhaps thousands of people who have been wiped out by the state of emergency. He urged authorities to immediately release those detained without “evidence establishing reasonable grounds to suspect”.

Commission spokespersons did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Kiyaro.

“Ethiopia has again become one of the worst jailers of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa,” the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement last week, describing the media environment as “hostile” three years after the entry. according to the Prime Minister and his government. freed journalists as part of sweeping political reforms that have since been eroded.

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Follow AP’s stories on the war in Ethiopia at https://apnews.com/hub/Ethiopia