Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) requested the Ethiopian government on Tuesday to release journalist Misganaw Getachew unconditionally. Authorities arrested Misganaw on August 9 after recording an interview outside the courthouse in Addis Ababa.
Misganaw Getachew is a reporter for ‘Ethiopis’ weekly owned by Eskindir Nega. He was arrested shortly after interviewing a lawyer Henok Aklilu outside the courthouse of Arada First Instance Court. Now he is facing an allegation of defying Anti-Terror proclamation, Eskindir, and Henok told CPJ.
According to the statement of CPJ, Misganaw and other journalists approached Henok for updates on the hearing of a group of people, including two media workers, facing anti-terror charges. He was filming with a camera installed on his eyeglasses to avoid possible harassment from the officials.
Furthermore, Police arrested Adam Wejera on the same day they arrested Misganaw, who was also filming, according to Eskindir. Adam is a member of ‘Balderas Council,’ a political movement activated by Eskindir Nega which claims to back the rights of Addis Ababa residents.
Whereas, the federal police and the Attorney General claim that the arrests have nothing to do with journalism. The federal police told CPJ that, they arrested Misganaw for illegally filming inside the court compound, while the attorney general’s office said Misganaw and Adam are suspected of being part of the coup attempt in Amhara regional state.
The anti-terror proclamation considered by legal experts as a proclamation which defines the crime of terrorism loosely, which acted as a tool for the previous governments to crackdown on political dissent. Ministers recently presented a draft law for the parliament to consider reform.
Misganaw was the latest journalist to be detained with allegations of the coup attempt and contravening anti-terror law. Last month the detentions of two media workers of Amharic Satellite Radio and Television (ASRAT) and Balderas movement member journalist Elias Gebru were reported. According to local media reports, more than 200 people were arrested in connection with the June coup attempt.
“The arrest of journalist Mesganaw Getachew, right after he reported on a court case, and the use of an anti-terror law that is a relic of past repression send a message that Ethiopia is reverting to old tools to silence dissent and criticism,” said CPJ Sub-Saharan Africa Representative Muthoki Mumo. “We call on authorities to release Mesganaw, stop using the Anti-Terror Proclamation against journalists, and ensure that reforms to the law protect freedom of expression and access to information.”
Misganaw and Adam brought to court on August 10, where they requested, and the police granted 28 days to investigate both on allegations of terrorism.