Police warn prominent journalist against attempts to incite Egyptian-like protests
Ethiomedia | February 12, 2011

Eskinder Nega
Eskinder Nega
ADDIS ABABA - Heavily-armed police on Friday took prominent Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega to their headquarters where a deputy police commissioner warned him to desist from "attempts to incite an Egyptian and Tunisian-like protests in Ethiopia."

Eskinder was picked up as he walked out of an Internet café in Piazza at the heart of the Ethiopian capital.

Showing printouts of the journalist's articles, including last week's column which carried the picture of former army chief-of-staff Gen. Tsadkan GebreTensae, the deputy commissioner told Eskinder: "You write about General Tsadkan to undermine the army. But be assured that EPRDF is capable of defending the constitution. If anything happens, we will first come to you."

In a brief email message why he couldn't send in his article, Eskinder said the deputy police commissioner told him that his writings on the Internet and his interviews with various media were "inflammatory."

The journalist's top-rated weekly column appears on www.ethiomedia.com every Friday and is an immediate standout with the readers around the globe.

To clear himself of any ambiguity, Eskinder asked the police chief one question: "Are you asking me to stop writing and giving interviews?"

"No," the police commissioner said. "But be warned that you have already crossed the boundary. We have enough to convict you already. I want you to understand that this is a serious warning."

Eskinder said he had nothing to offer his readers this week as his papers were confiscated by police. However, he said he would be back with his writing next week.

Long before the government revoked his publishing license, Eskinder was in and out of prison several times, and was held in solitary confinement for long periods while enduring a torture that left him with a dislocated shoulder.

His wife, award-winning journalist Serkalem Fassil, widely known for giving birth in a nasty prison following the 2005 government crackdown on dissent, also remains barred from her job, publishing a newspaper. The couple's appeals to courts over the years have fallen on deaf ears.

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