AN ETHIOPIAN judge has entenced a journalist to prisonÃƒâ€šÃ‚Â in connection with a January 2008 column that criticized Prime Minister Meles ZenawiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s statements about religious affairs in Ethiopia, according to local journalists, according to a media release from the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Federal High Court Judge Mohammed Omar sentenced Editor Ezedin Mohamed of the Muslim-oriented newspaper Al-Quds to one year in prison. The precise charges were not immediately available but were related to a January 30, 2008, column that came in response to ZenawiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s interview with The Guardian of London that month, according to CPJ sources.
The Al-Quds column challenged ZenawiÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s characterization of his country as ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œOrthodox Christian Ethiopia,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â one source said. Mohamed has begun serving his sentence at Kality Prison outside the capital, Addis Ababa, sources said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe jailing of Ezedin Mohamed is another example of EthiopiaÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s intolerance of independent and critical voices,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â said CPJ Africa Program Coordinator Tom Rhodes. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is high time for Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to demonstrate his commitment to democratic values by ending the practice of imprisoning journalists.
Mohamed is the fifth journalist imprisoned in Ethiopia, which is the second worst jailer of journalists in Africa, according to CPJ research. Only Eritrea jails more.