The trial of six bloggers from Ethiopian blog Zone 9 and three journalist were due to get underway today, but shortly after court proceeding started it was adjourned to the 20th of August.
While no reason for the adjournment was given, the news was communicated through Zone 9’s twitter account early Monday morning.
— ZoneNine (@zone9ners) August 4, 2014
The nine writers have been charged under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law, for posting blog articles about the state of the East African nation and on topics such as human rights. At the end of July they have been in custody for over three months.
One of the arrested bloggers, Natnael Feleke, posted various articles on political freedom in Ethiopia. “In his introduction Natnael has painted the level of fear the country has been experiencing. He gave instances of this fear culture that engulfed Ethiopia. He highlighted why freedom and bread are a contested issues in Ethiopian politics. He provocatively asked which (bread or freedom) should be prioritized,” Ethiopian blog Trial Trackers explained from the translated text.
The articles were written in Ethiopia’s native Amharic language.
In another blog entry called ‘Journalism or manufacturing consent’ blogger Endalkachew H took on journalism, which the country tries to control.
“It is a piece which criticize the developmental journalism practiced by state media. The writer argues state media journalism is used to manufacture consent,” added Trial Trackers.
In late July 40 international organisations penned an open letter demanding from Ethiopian prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn the release of Zone 9 bloggers from custody.
The letter accuses the Ethiopian government of mistreating the bloggers. “All nine detainees were subsequently held for nearly three months before any specific allegations were presented or formal charges filed against them. Most concerning, however, are reports that some of the detainees have complained of serious mistreatment by investigators and that defence lawyers and their clients have been excluded from some of the proceedings,” the letter reads.[Image – CC by 2.0/Luigi Caterino]