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Four journalists convicted of treason pardoned and freed

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders voiced relief on learning that, on 20 July 2007, the Ethiopian government heeded international pleas and pardoned 38 opposition members, including four journalists, who had been given jail terms ranging from six months to life on 16 July.

The four journalists to receive pardons were: "Ethiop" editor Andualem Ayele, "Abay" editor Mesfin Tesfaye, "Asqual" editor Wonakseged Zeleke and Dawit Fassil, the deputy editor of the now defunct weekly "Satenaw". Two other journalists who were given life sentences in absentia - "Menilik" editor Zelalem Guebre (see IFEX alerts of 17 July 2007 and 28 June 2005) and "Netsanet" editor Abey Gizaw (see alerts of 17 July 2007, 22, 13, 9 and 5 December 2005, and others) - have not so far been included in the pardon.

"We have finally had some good news in this interminable case, but we remain on our guard," Reporters Without Borders said. "Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has taken account of the international community's appeals but he made the release of these prisoners conditional on their signing an 'apology to the Ethiopian people' for the 'mistakes made in November 2005'."

The press freedom organisation added: "This case will not be over until Zelalem Guebre and Abey Gizaw have also been cleared of all the charges against them."

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