Ethiopian authorities arrest two more journalists

Ethiopian authorities have arrested two more journalists, raising the number of journalists arrested to 12 since a crackdown on independent media began earlier this month, an international media watchdog said. Security forces raided the offices of the Amharic-language weeklies Menilik, Asqual and Satanaw on Nov. 22 and are holding the three weeklies' publisher, Serkalem Fassil, and her husband, journalist, Iskinder Nega, at an undisclosed location, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement late Monday.

The statement, which quoted unnamed sources, did not say when Serkalem and Iskinder were arrested.

"The ongoing crackdown on the private press in Ethiopia is an outrage," said Ann Cooper, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists. "The government must stop its attempt to shutter the entire local press, and release all jailed journalists immediately."

Private newspapers have been prevented from printing and journalists have gone into hiding after the crackdown, the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists said.

A crackdown effecting independent media, opposition politicians and civil and human rights activists began on Nov. 1 during clashes between demonstrators protesting disputed May parliamentary elections and the police. At least 46 people died in those clashes.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has said in the past that editors and opposition leaders jailed during the crackdown would be charged with treason, which carries the death penalty in Ethiopia. So far prosecutors have not charged them with anything, pleading in court that police needed more time for investigations. The courts have granted prosecutors their request, reports the AP. I.L.

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