Reeyot Alemu

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After a decade of unprecedented growth and development, the insistence on positive news remains a significant threat to press freedom in sub-Saharan Africa. By Mohamed Keita

A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)
A newspaper displayed in the Ikoyi district of Lagos on September 30, 2013, tells of a deadly attack on a college in northeast Nigeria by suspected Boko Haram militants. Coverage of the group can be sensitive in Nigeria. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

New York, November 5, 2013--As media leaders and officials of regional institutions gather in Addis Ababa this week for the African Media Leaders Forum (AMLF), the Committee to Protect Journalists calls on the participants to ensure that press freedom is squarely on the agenda.

Woubshet Taye's wife Berhane Tesfaye and their son accepted an award on behalf of the imprisoned journalist. (CPJ/Sue Valentine)

Journalists and media owners across Africa gave Ethiopian journalist Woubshet Taye a standing ovation in Cape Town on Saturday night at the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Awards 2013, but he wasn't there to see it. Instead his wife and son accepted the Free Press Award on his behalf.

Part of the citation for the award reads: "Ethiopia is a jewel in the African crown for its beauty, its people, its history and, most recently, for its astonishing growth rates. It is the judges' view that journalists like Woubshet Taye and his colleagues Reeyot Alemu and Eskinder Nega should be out of prison and working to build the prosperity and the freedom of a new Ethiopia. The judges make this award in recognition of Mr. Taye's work and in solidarity with his condition."

Ethiopian journalists Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu. (Lennart Kjörling and IWMF)

In 1968, Andrei Sakharov braved censorship and personal risk in the Soviet Union to give humanity an honest and timeless declaration of conscience. That same year, Ethiopia's most prominent dissenter, Eskinder Nega, was born. In January 1981, a year into Sakharov's exile in the closed city of Gorky, Reeyot Alemu, another fierce, Ethiopian free thinker, was born.

Reeyot Alemu (IWMF)

Nairobi, September 16, 2013--The decision by authorities at Kality Prison to impose visitor restrictions on imprisoned journalist Reeyot Alemu constitutes harassment and runs counter to the Ethiopian constitution, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

"We call upon the Ethiopian authorities to lift these latest restrictions and allow Reeyot Alemu to receive all visitors," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. "She is a journalist, not a criminal, and should not be behind bars."

In a ruling that lasted five minutes, a new judge appointed to the Ethiopian Court of Cassation in the capital, Addis Ababa, rejected on January 8, 2012, an appeal filed on behalf of award-winning journalist Reeyot Alemu, according to local journalists. 

Swedish journalists Johan Persson
and Martin Schibbye appear on state television. (ETV/YouTube)

Nairobi, September 11, 2012--The Committee to Protect Journalists today called on the Ethiopian government to set free six journalists in prison for their work, a day after Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were pardoned and released from Kality Prison in the capital Addis Ababa.

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