Deputy Editor-in-chief of "It'op" Newspaper Charged, Detained

Statement from the Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), Addis Ababa

A state prosecutor has charged Wosenseged Gebrekidan, deputy editor-in-chief of "It 'op" newspaper, with "publishing and disseminating an article in 'It'op' newspaper no. 343 that libels Habte Mariam Seyoum". Gebrekidan is accused of dismissing the former ambassador's statements regarding his diplomatic efforts during the Ethio-Eritrean war, and in connection with issues relating to Asab port.

According to the charge, in the contentious article, Gebrekidan "dismissed Ambassador Habte Mariam Seyoum's statements as false and, as such, caused his statements to be rejected, thus diminishing his credibility with the public".

On 14 May 2003, the Federal High Court's Fourth Criminal Bench ruled that the journalist should produce bail of Birr 2,000 (approx. US$250) and fight the case in court. Gebrekidan was imprisoned because he could not produce bail.

For further information, contact Kifle Mulat, President, EFJA, P.O. Box 31317 / 33232, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, tel/fax: +251 1 55 50 21, mobile: +251 1 (09) 222 939, e-mail: [email protected], [email protected]