ETHOPIAN Journalist Eskinder Nega who is reportedly serving an 18-year sentence on vague terrorism charges has refused to sign false confession in exchange for prison release under presidential pardon.
Eskinder, who has spent almost seven years in jail for his work, was one of 746 prisoners due to be pardoned by President Mulatu Teshome on February 8, according to media reports.
Media reports that the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention condemned Eskinder’s 2012 trial and conviction and said it was connected to his “peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression.”
It further reports the trial fell short of international standards of fairness and that the group found his arrest without warrant, and prosecution was flawed. CPJ Africa Program coordinator Angela Quintal has urged the Ethiopian government to release the journalist. Quintal said forcing Eskinder to sign a false confession would undermine the goodwill it might have generated by releasing him.
His wife disclosed to the media last that he was asked by a prison official to sign a form which falsely stated that he was a member of an organisation the government deems a terrorist group called Ginbot 7.
She said Eskinder was returned to his cell after he refused to sign and had his request to see a senior official, of which he was denied.