Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Police Arrest Ethiopian Insider’s Founder

Journalist Tesflame Valdis, founder and editor-in-chief of Ethiopia InsiderAccording to media reports, an Ethiopian news and analysis website is in police custody.

Tesflame’s aides and friends said his whereabouts had not been known since Saturday, but federal police confirmed his detention to the BBC, saying there was nothing to worry about.

Police did not provide additional information. Soon after the detention, Befekadu Hailu, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Rights and Democracy, said Tesfalem went missing after covering the Iricha festival in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. Iricha is a cultural event celebrated by the ethnic Oromo community of Ethiopia.

Befeqadu also said via Twitter that Tesfalem plans for Sunday to report on the festival, which also took place at a second location, Bishotu.

The annual event is traditionally held in Bishoftu, a town located in the Oromia region, about 40 kilometers south of Addis Ababa.

After covering the event in Addis Ababa, Tesfalem posted a video Ethiopia Insider Facebook page in which attendees expressed their criticism of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s administration.

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Those present also demanded the release of political prisoners, chanting “Jawar, Jawar!

Oromo activist and opposition leader Jawar Mohamed has been imprisoned along with other prominent Oromo politicians on charges of terrorism and other crimes.

In 2014, Tesfalem was among three journalists and six bloggers known as “Zone 9 bloggers” and arrested for inciting violence, among other charges, including terrorism. He spent more than a year in prison and was later released. Zone 9 bloggers were the recipients of the Committee to Protect Journalists’ International Press Freedom Award in 2015.

The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists says at least seven journalists are imprisoned in the country.

Separately, Prime Minister Abiy was sworn in for a second term on Monday.

The incident comes as the national government is engaged in a nearly year-long armed conflict with rebels in Ethiopia’s northern Tigre region.

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