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Two journalists freed on bail; two others remain in detention

(RSF/IFEX) - 25 July 2011 - Reporters Without Borders notes that Haileyesus Worku, the editor of the state-owned Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency (ERTA), and one of its reporters, Abdulsemed Mohammed, were finally released on bail of 5,000 birr (205 euros) on 22 July after being held for 15 months on charges of illegally selling state-owned news content for personal gain.

The court has scheduled a hearing for 12 November to hear defence arguments. The two journalists are meanwhile banned from leaving the country.

They were arrested on 26 April 2010 on charges of illegally obtaining TV news content and passing it to a foreign TV company for personal profit, causing considerable losses for ERTA and violating copyright. They could be fined and jailed if convicted.

Reporters Without Borders has also learned that Woubeshet Taye, the deputy editor of the Amharic-language weekly Awramba Times, who was arrested on 19 June, and Reyot Alemu, a woman reporter for the Amharic-language weekly Fitih, who was arrested on 21 June, appeared last week before judges, who ordered that they remain in detention.

Alemu was brought before a federal court in the utmost secrecy on 20 July without her family or her colleagues being notified of the hearing. Taye was also brought before a federal court. In both cases, a 28-day extension of their detention was ordered to allow for further police investigation.

Both are accused of complicity with Ginbot 7, a US-based opposition group which parliament recently declared to be a "terrorist" organization. They are due to appear in court next on 19 August. Reporters Without Borders has been told that they have not been allowed visits by family members or their lawyers.

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