MLDI launches international bid to quash the phony conviction of Ethiopian free press journalists.

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The Horn Times Newsletter 27 November 2013

By Getahune Bekele-South Africa

“It is virtually impossible within the Ethiopian justice system for a journalist who has been unlawfully imprisoned to get justice.” Nani Janson, MLDI senior legal counsel.

A UK based international charity organization is on fund raising mission to help secure the release of jailed Ethiopian journalists Eskender Nega and Reeyot Alemu.

Media Legal Defense Initiative, MLDI, well known for helping scores of independent journalists defend their rights, urgently needs 20,000 USD to file court cases against the ruling minority junta of Ethiopia.

Peter NoorlanderThe organization, which famously won standard-setting judgments on issues like the protection of journalist’s sources and criminal libel, said it has obtained the permission of Eskender Nega and Reeyot Alemu to bring their case to African commission on human and people’s rights that has a binding judgment and power to order the Ethiopian regime to free all unjustly convicted journalists.

In addition, MLDT wants the commission to recognize the terrible situation Ethiopian independent journalists find themselves in as a gross and systematic violation of their rights.

According to document of the bid posted on www.mediadefence.org, the 20,000 USD will only be used to cover court-related expences such as the translation of legal papers and attendance of court hearings while the lawyers involved to quash the phony convictions all give their time for free.

Doners will be provided with regular updates until the complition of the procidings.

Lamenting the prosecution of 15 journalists and the total shut down of 14 independent media outlets in Ethiopia since the draconian anti-terrorism proclamation was adopted in 2009, MLDI appealed to all good smaritans to donate from as little as 25 USD before the deadline day of 19 January 2014.

“A legal challenge to the African commission and court of Human rights has been made for Eskinder Nega and Reeyot Alemu.” MLDI chief executive Peter Noorlander said during an ICFJ discussion on Linkedin  attended by the Horn Times, adding that his organization needs every support to free the two journalists wrongly convicted as terrorists and set a precedent, which will help stop the abuse of anti-terror laws across Africa.

Highly respected Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega is currently serving an 18 years prison sentence at the notorious and overcrowded Kaliti jail for simply writing “could an Arab spring-like movment take place in Ethiopia?”

Both Eskinder and Reeyot were nominees of the 2013 Sakharov prize for freedom of thought.

Please visit www.mediadefence.org to donate and learn more.

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