New era for Ethiopia’s journalists

By on June 12, 2021

first_img News Receive email alerts News May 18, 2021 Find out more Ethiopia arbitrarily suspends New York Times reporter’s accreditation May 21, 2021 Find out more Organisation Help by sharing this information EthiopiaAfrica Freedom of expression By releasing imprisoned journalists, unblocking access to news websites and lifting bans on media outlets that had been imposed by the previous regime, Abiy’s government has moved in a swift and spectacular manner in the 12 months since it took office on 2 April 2018.For the first time in more than 15 years, no journalists are being held in connection with their work. A total of 264 previously banned websites and blogs have been given permission to operate. Leading Ethiopian TV channels that had been forced to operate from bases outside the country, such as OMN and ESAT, can now operate in Ethiopia. In all, 23 publications and six TV channels have been approved in recent months.“In the past year, Ethiopia has gone from being one of Africa’s biggest jailer of journalists, only just behind neighbouring Eritrea, to being a country where journalists can now fulfil their role as a fourth estate and criticize the government without immediately being imprisoned,” said Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s Africa desk.“We urge the new authorities to continue the important progress that has been achieved by quickly keeping the promise to overhaul legislation that is extremely repressive for journalists, by improving access to state-held information, by abolishing Internet cuts altogether, and by acting as press freedom advocates internationally.”Hostile legislative environmentA commission that was established to review the draconian media laws is due to issue its conclusions in the next few weeks. In the past decade, a major arsenal of legislative weapons had been created to gag the media. It included a 2009 terrorism law that was used to sentence the well-known journalist Eskinder Nega to 18 years in prison just for speculating about the Arab Spring’s potential impact on Ethiopia.The 2008 law on mass media and access to information provides the authorities with broad powers for prosecuting journalists on defamation charges and for preventing the publication of content that could disturb public order. And, under the 2016 cyber-crime law, just sharing “defamatory” content is punishable by several years in prison.Under these three laws, dozens of journalists and bloggers were detained, prosecuted and given arbitrary prison sentences just for exercising their legitimate right to freedom of expression and information.Old habits die hardThe Internet, which was often disconnected under the previous government, has for the most part been restored but inter-ethnic conflicts prompted occasional cuts in 2018 that complicated accessing sources and sharing information for the journalists who were trying to cover these conflicts.Meddling in the editorial decisions of independent media outlets also seems hard to shake off. The executives of two TV channels, ENN and Tigray TV, were summoned by the regulatory agency in June because they had not provided live coverage of a ruling party rally.Finally, although the prime minister gave two press conferences immediately since he took office, access to state-held information is still very far from adequate and the law guaranteeing access is, for the most part, not being implemented.Ethiopia is ranked 150th out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2018 World Press Freedom Index. RSF_en April 2, 2019 – Updated on April 4, 2019 New era for Ethiopia’s journalistscenter_img Ethiopia’s Prime minister Abiy Ahmed speaks during a press conference at his office in Addis Ababa, on August 25, 2018. Michael Tewelde / AFP News to go further EthiopiaAfrica Freedom of expression Journalist attacked, threatened in her Addis Ababa home Follow the news on Ethiopia On the first anniversary of Abiy Ahmed’s installation as prime minister, Ethiopia no longer has any journalists in prison and hundreds of previously banned media outlets are now permitted. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) urges Abiy to go further by giving journalists more legislative protection and by turning Ethiopia into a regional press freedom model. RSF condemns NYT reporter’s unprecedented expulsion from Ethiopia News February 10, 2021 Find out morelast_img read more

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Leahy doubts FBI in anthrax case; scientist admits error

By on November 18, 2020

first_img See also: Aug 20 CIDRAP News story “FBI says it easily replicated anthrax used in attacks” Ivins, a microbiologist who worked at the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) in Frederick, Md., died of an apparent suicide on Jul 29 as the FBI was preparing to charge him in the case. On Aug 6 the FBI announced its conclusion that Ivins was the sole perpetrator and released a number of documents, mostly search warrant affidavits. “I believe I made an honest mistake,” he told the Times, adding that he had been “overly impressed” by what he saw under the miscroscope. He was careful at the time not to implicate Iraq or any other government in the attacks, but others used his analysis to allege that the silicon suggested possible involvement by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Times reported. Jahrling reported this to his superiors and was subsequently summoned to the White House to brief top administration officials, the Times reported. A virologist, Jahrling also said, “I never should have ventured into this area,” referring to the study of anthrax, a type of bacteria, the story said. The AP report said the NAS review will be handled by private scientists who were not involved in the FBI investigation and that it could take up to 18 months. Mueller told the Senate committee he would consider allowing it to suggest scientists, but cautioned that the NAS and the Justice Department would probably have to go along. Mueller replied, “I understand that concern,” but he defended the FBI’s view that Ivins was the only culprit, the AP reported. ‘An honest mistake’One of the controversial questions in the anthrax case has been whether the anthrax powder used in the attacks was weaponized, or treated to make it spread better through the air and penetrate into the lungs. Such treatment would be difficult, making it less likely that one person was responsible for the attacks, experts have said. A Sep 17 Los Angeles Times report said Jahrling, the senior civilian scientist at USAMRIID in 2001, had studied the anthrax used in the attacks, work that was detailed in a 2002 book by Richard Preston. Using an electron microscope, Jahrling detected what he believed to be signs that silicon had been added to the material, the story said. Leahy said at the hearing, “If he is the one who sent the letter, I do not believe in any way, shape, or manner that he is the only person involved in this attack on Congress and the American people,” the AP reported. Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, was one of two senators, in addition to several media offices, that received envelopes containing anthrax powder in the fall of 2001. The attacks killed 5 people and sickened 17 others. “We have looked at every lead and followed every lead to determine whether anybody else was involved, and we will continue to do so,” Mueller said. At a House Judiciary Committee hearing a day earlier, Mueller had said he would ask the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to review the FBI’s work on the case. In view of skepticism about the FBI findings, a number of scientists and biodefense experts have called for a review by independent experts. An NAS spokesman confirmed this to the AP. The spokesman, Wlliam Kearney, said the organization “would welcome input on potential committee members” from Congress, federal agencies, the scientific community, and the public. But all the nominees would have to be approved by the NAS president, he said. Another senator at the hearing, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said a congressional investigation of the FBI’s anthrax probe will probably be necessary, according to a Sep 17 report by Congress Daily. Lawmakers want role in review of caseIn other developments at the Senate hearing, Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., demanded to have a role in choosing scientists who will conduct an independent review of the FBI’s investigation, according to the AP story. Aug 15 CIDRAP News story “FBI conclusions in anthrax probe meet skepticism” Sep 16 CIDRAP News story “FBI seeks independent review of anthrax probe” Sep 19, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a target of the 2001 anthrax attacks, said this week that he disbelieves the FBI’s conclusion that Dr. Bruce E. Ivins was the sole perpetrator of the attacks, according to news services. Meanwhile, Peter B. Jahrling, a leading government biodefense scientist, told the Los Angeles Times this week that he had erred in 2001 when he told Bush administration officials that the anthrax used in the mail attacks probably had been modified to make it more lethal. Grassley said the NAS review panel probably will not be allowed to review classified evidence in the case, creating a need for a congressional investigation, the report said. But in response to e-mailed questions from the newspaper, Jahrling said this week that he had been wrong. Senator doubts FBI chiefLeahy, at a Sep 17 hearing of his committee, told FBI Director Robert Mueller III that he thinks other people were involved in the attacks, but he did not explain his reasons, according to an Associated Press (AP) report. Other committee members also voiced doubts about the FBI’s conclusions, according to news reports. As reported previously, FBI scientists and outside experts hired by the FBI to analyze the anthrax used in the mailings announced Aug 18 that they had found silicon, but they believed it occurred naturally and was not added to the material. “I believe there are others who could be charged with murder,” Leahy added. “I just want you to know how I feel about it as someone who was aimed at in the attack.”last_img read more

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