An Ethiopian court granted police 10 more days to investigate nine bloggers and journalists suspected of conspiring with “terrorist” organizations in a case that’s raised concern from the U.S. and European Union.
The suspects will next appear in court in the Arada district of the capital, Addis Ababa, on May 17 and 18 when authorities may press charges or ask to extend their detention, defense lawyer Ameha Mekonnen said by phone. Three of the bloggers attended court today, he said.
“The police alleged that these people received money from terrorist organizations and that they’ve taken training, traveling to Kenya, and one European country,” Ameha said. “Police are saying they organized themselves underground and using social media they planned to instigate a revolution.”
The capital’s police on April 25-26 arrested three freelance journalists and six bloggers with Zone 9, a group writing on Ethiopian politics. The U.S. State Department has urged the authorities to release those detained, while the EU called for the defendants to receive full legal rights.
Donors and rights groups have repeatedly criticized Ethiopia’s government for criminalizing dissent, while officials say politicians and journalists are only jailed if they break the law.
Communications Minister Redwan Hussein didn’t answer his mobile phone when Bloomberg News called today seeking comment. The mobile phone of State Minister of Communications Shimeles Kemal was switched off.