Temesghen Desalegn, Fact
Imprisoned:October 13, 2014

The Federal High Court in the capital, Addis Ababa, convicted magazine owner Temesghen of incitement, defamation, and false publication on October 13, 2014, in the revival of a 2012 defamation case that had been dropped, according to local journalists and news reports. On October 27, 2014, a court sentenced Temesghen to three years' imprisonment, according to news reports.

The conviction stemmed from a series of opinion pieces published in Temesghen's former news magazine Feteh ("Justice") in 2012, according to the charge sheet reviewed by CPJ. The articles discussed the peaceful struggle of Ethiopian youth movements for political change, and two columns criticized alleged government efforts to violently suppress student protests and ethnic minorities, according to the charge sheet.

The court also charged in absentia Mastewal Birhanu, the former publisher of Feteh, with inciting the public to violence by printing the magazine, according to the charge sheet.

Authorities briefly arrested Temesghen on August 23, 2012, in relation to the same articles but inexplicably dropped the charges and released the journalist five days later, according to news reports. In February 2013, a judge in the Federal High Court reinstated the charges without explanation. State prosecutors had announced in December 2012 that they would refile unspecified charges against him, Temesghen told CPJ.

The government also ordered printers to block the distribution of Feteh in July 2012 in connection with a series of articles about the health of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died the following month,, local journalists said. Authorities blocked three other subsequent publications started by Temesghen, including Addis Times, Le'ilena ("Magnanimity"), and the latest, Fact, according to CPJ research.

The last edition of Fact was published in September 2014, local journalists told CPJ. In August 2014, the Justice Ministry accused Fact and five other independent weekly publications of inciting violence, publishing false news, and undermining public confidence in the government. All of the publications ceased printing.

In March 2015, sources close to Temesghen told CPJ that the journalist had been denied medical care for stomach and back problems and that his health had deteriorated to the point that he had difficulty walking.

He was being held at the remote Ziway Prison, about 83 miles southeast of the capital, local journalists and his relatives told CPJ. In late 2015, prison guards denied Temesghen prison visits from anyone except his mother and brother, local journalists told CPJ.

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