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As Ethiopia Charges Bloggers as Terrorists, US Concerned, UN Silent

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, July 18 -- The attack on Ethiopia's Zone 9 bloggers, which Inner City Press covered in late April, now has Ethiopia charging them with terrorism.

  The UN Secretariat of Ban Ki-moon has after pressure condemned just this in Egypt. But when Inner City Press on behalf of the Free UN Coalition for Access asked Ban's deputy spokesperson Farhan Haq about the terrorism charges on July 18, at first there was no comment at all.

  Then the UN Spokesperson's Office sent Inner City Press a link to a statement by Navi Pillay -- from May 2. Nothing since?

  Now later on July 18, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki has said:

The United States is deeply concerned by the Ethiopian Federal High Court’s July 18 decision to press charges against six bloggers and three independent journalists under the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation.
We urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is fair, transparent, and in compliance with Ethiopia’s constitutional guarantees and international human rights obligations.  We also urge the Ethiopian government to ensure that the trial is open to public observation and free of political influence.
We reiterate Secretary Kerry’s May 1 call on Ethiopia to refrain from using anti-terrorism laws as a mechanism to curb the free exchange of ideas.  The use of the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation in previous cases against journalists, activists, and opposition political figures raises serious questions and concerns about the intent of the law, and about the sanctity of Ethiopians' constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
Freedom of expression and freedom of the press are fundamental elections of a democratic society. The arrest of journalists and bloggers, and their prosecution under terrorism laws, has a chilling effect on the media and all Ethiopians’ right to freedom of expression.

 Now will Ban's UN say something? Watch this site."

 Previously we asked, after US-based Twitter has suspended Natnail Feleke's account, what would the US say? Did Twitter give in to Ethiopia, as it has been doing in Turkey, where Ergodan has also claimed it have "copyrights" his own leaked phone calls?

  This recalls an anti-Press complaint to the UN now being banned from Search by Google under a spurious US Digital Millennium Copyright Act complaint, here. In the UN itself, a request has been made to have UNTV censor even cut-aways of opponents, click here for that. The new Free UN Coalition for Access is asking the UN and countries' diplomats at the UN about all this.

  Watch this site.

Footnote: Outright censorship as well as freedom of the press issues have arisen at the UN with respect to Voice of America, on whose Broadcasting Board of Governors John Kerry serves. Freedom of Information Act requests have been filed with the BBG - and with the State Department, including with regard to South Sudan and the US Atrocities Prevention Board. The issues are being pursued by the new Free UN Coalition for Access. Watch this site.


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