In response to an Ethiopian court’s decision today to recognize formal charges against the Zone Nine bloggers and journalists, who have been imprisoned for nine months and are now required to enter a plea on February 3, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The court’s decision to accept amended charges that have no substantive difference from the original charges which the same court rejected in November further proves the political nature of this case,” said Jenai Cox, Africa program manager.
“The defendants are on trial for exercising their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression. The government of Ethiopia should dismiss these spurious charges and release the bloggers and journalists immediately.
“Furthermore, Ethiopia’s donor partners should press the government to stop pursuing politically motivated charges against pro-democracy activists as the country prepares for elections in May.”