Regulators accused the site of advancing the agenda of “terrorist” organizations, a move that was condemned by media rights organizations.
The Ethiopian media regulator suspended the famous independent online media The Addis Standard, accusing it of advancing the agenda of a “terrorist organization”.
The publisher of the popular English-language website said late Thursday that it was uncomfortable with the decision and would appeal against it.
The regulator said in an online statement: “The temporary suspension was carried out after complaints and worrying trends emerged in the monitoring results of the EMA (Ethiopian Media Authority).”
“We understand that the media has always been a platform for advancing the agenda of terrorist organizations,” it added, possibly referring to Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) The government has been fighting in the northern area of ??Tigray since November 2020.
-Tsedale Lemma (@TsedaleLemma) July 15, 2021
TPLF was designated by the government as a “terrorist” organization in May, but dominated Ethiopian politics for 30 years before 2018.
JAKENN Publishing, publisher of Addis Standard, said on Twitter that the regulator’s decision to suspend its media license was “deeply disturbed”.
The company will appeal the ruling, and its founder, Tsedale Lemma, told Reuters over the phone: “We plan to defend it legally because we think it’s not the right thing,” she said.
In a tweet, Lemma also urged the staff of Addis Standard and JAKENN to “look up!”
“You stand to the right of your profession!” she wrote.
After coming to power in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has overseen extensive reforms, including lifting the ban on more than 250 media outlets and releasing dozens of journalists. His awards for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2019 included praise for his “stopping media censorship.”
But the international media watchdog said that since then, the government has been cracking down on the media. Conflict broke out In November, it cooperated with the former ruling party TPLF in the northern region of Tigray.
After Addis Standard issued a statement in early November urging the government to open channels of communication, senior editor Medihane Ekubamichael was arrested. Arrested At home because of “attempts to destroy the Constitution through violence” and “outrage at the Constitution.” He was later released, but was then arrested again and held for about a month.
#Ethiopia??: RSF has requested official clarification @EthMediaAuth Rear @addisstandard It was suspended today in a very opaque way. Arbitrary imprisonment of journalists is enough, and the authorities should avoid further attacks on the freedom of the press! pic.twitter.com/iQA41k5HPt
-RSF (@RSF_inter) July 15, 2021
Media rights groups and Reporters Without Borders (RSF) quickly condemned the suspension in a tweet retweeted by Addis Standard, calling on the Ethiopian government to provide official clarification on this action and “avoid further attacks on press freedom.” media! “.
At the same time, the African Office of the Foreign Press Association wrote on Twitter: “The censorship, suppression and suppression of the media only occur in authoritarian democracies.”
The government denies that press freedom is deteriorating.
Freedom of the press is an important part of democracy. Freedom of the press fights for the truth.We are disappointed @EthMediaAuth, Without any explanation, activity has been suspended @addisstandard
The censorship, suppression, and suppression of the media only occur in authoritarian democracies. https://t.co/UjpkJC61zW
-Foreign Press Association, Africa (@FPA_Africa) July 15, 2021
The Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, appointed by the state, said on Sunday that the police had arrested 21 journalists from Awlo Media and Ethiopia Forum, two independent YouTube channels that have been criticizing the government.
The committee stated that the federal police told it that three of the journalists had been released.