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Magazine issue seized, its editor and others imprisoned

(EFJA/IFEX) - In a move that is widely believed to have been deliberately chosen to coincide with World Press Freedom Day, the Ethiopian government struck against the private press on 3 May 2008. This development is part of a slide toward naked tyranny, following the brutal crackdown after the 2005 election.

Ten thousand copies of a non-political monthly magazine, "Enku", have been impounded by police and the publisher and deputy editor of the magazine, Alemayehu Mahtemework, imprisoned. The magazine was impounded on the night of 2 May, just before it was set to hit the market early on 3 May.

Along with the publisher, three other persons in no way connected to the magazine, but who were in the van carrying the magazine out of the printing press, were also imprisoned. The magazine's cover story is about the imprisonment of Ethiopia's pop icon and critic of the government, Tewdros Kasahun, which is stirring political passions in the country. The imprisoned are due to appear before court on 5 May.

The EFJA expresses its deep concern over these illegal actions. It also calls on all free press institutions, professional associations, international human rights activists and organizations to make their voices heard in protest of this development, which poses a great danger to the democratic rights of Ethiopian journalists.

For further information on the 2005 post-election crackdown on media, see: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/85036

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