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WikiLeaks: Journalist forced to flee Ethiopia

Posted on Thursday, 15 September 2011 16:48

An Ethiopian journalist, Argaw Ashine, has been forced to flee the Horn of Africa country after his name appeared in a leaked United States diplomatic cable, an international media watchdog said on Thursday.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said Ashine fled after he was questioned by the authorities in connection with a cable dated 2009 and recently leaked by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks revealed that he foiled government plans to swoop on a now defunct private newspaper.

CPJ said the journalist who is also a correspondent for the Kenya based Nation Media Group fled Ethiopia over the weekend.

He has reportedly requested that his current location must not be disclosed for safety reasons.

“The threat we sought to avert through redactions of initial WikiLeaks cables has now become real,” CPJ said in a statement.

“A citation in one of these cables can easily provide repressive governments with the perfect opportunity to persecute or punish journalists.”

CPJ criticised the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks for its mass release of documents without removing sensitive names.

A number of Ethiopian and foreign journalists have been thrown behind bars in the Horn of Africa country after the enactment of a tough terrorism law.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government recently adopted the law that bans any form of communication with groups designated as terrorist organisations.

Publishers of information that is deemed to be terror related face jail terms of up to 20 years.

Listed terror groups include the opposition Oromo Liberation Front, the Ogaden National Liberation Front and Gibnot 7 as well as al-Shabaab and al-Qaeda.

According to the US cable, Ashine warned journalists at the independently owned Addis Neger that authorities had drawn up a list of six journalists they wanted to target in their plan to silence the paper.

The paper closed down in November that year and the journalists went to exile fearing that they would be arrested under the terrorism law.

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