Detained Ethiopian Journalist Elias Nigatu Must Be Released Immediately

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has today strongly condemned the additional seven days detention time given to police by an Ethiopian court to investigate the case of the journalist,Elias Nigatu,who has beenheld since 26 May.

According to the IFJ affiliate, the Ethiopian National Journalists Union (ENJU), Nigatu, who writes for Enku magazine, was arrested for publishing a story that police said instigated violence and riots among students at Jimma university, located in Jimma city, southwest of Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa. Police have stated that Elias is responsible for the loss of property and human lives during the violent riot by the university students.

The journalist appeared before the court yesterday, Tuesday 27 May, but police requested that he be detained for anadditional 14 daysso they could carry ourfurther investigations. The court finally allowed the police to detain him for seven additional days.

Ethiopian police must immediately release our colleague while they continue to investigate the accusations against him. The detention and harassment of journalists must stop”, said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa director.

The President of the Ethiopian National Journalists Union (ENJU), Anteneh Abraham, has strongly condemned the decision of the court. “According to Ethiopian law, if a journalist is accused he should be charged directly,then the case would be seen immediately with no hassle if the police have evidence, but it is not legal to detain a journalist for such a long time,” Anteneh said.

The IFJ has recently severely criticised authorities in Ethiopia following the decision by a court to grant police nearly one more month to conduct investigations against 3 journalists and 6 bloggers detained in the country last month.

The IFJ criticism comes a few weeks after it wrote an open letter to U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, during his visit to the country to ask him to raise his concerns about the ordeal of the imprisoned journalists when he met with Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn.

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The IFJ represents more than 600.000 journalists in 134 countries