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Social media outrage as Ethiopian activist faces jail over 2015 Facebook post

Social media outrage as Ethiopian activist faces jail over 2015 Facebook post


‘‘Very outrageous, Yonatan could face 20 years in prison just for a Facebook post, no one will believe this,’‘ this is the view of an Ethiopian activist Eyasped Tesfaye.

He was reacting to the impending sentencing of a former political colleague, Yonatan Tesfaye, who was on Monday found guilty of terrorism for Facebook posts he made in 2015.

Eyasped while insisting that Yonatan was not a terrorist also said the current trend showed that there was no freedom of speech in Ethiopia. His view is similar to one expressed by lead counsel for Yonatan. Sentencing is due on May 22 this year.


— Eyasped Tesfaye (@eyasped) May 16, 2017

‘‘He is not a terrorist, he is just an activist, he was a chair in the Blue party after he left the blue party he was just an activist. He writes different things on Facebook and according to that he may face 10 to 20 years in prison,’‘ Eyasped told RFI in an interview.

Yonatan Tesfaye, a former spokesperson for the Blue party, was arrested in December 2015 after his facebook posts were judged by the authorities to have helped ignite the Oromo protests which hit the country.

After his arrest, he was held incommunicado during the pre-trial period that spanned some five months. Eventually, in May 2016, he was charged with terrorism under the country’s anti-terrorism proclamation (ATP).

Other prominent Ethiopian activists took to social media to decry the court ruling amongst them Jawar Mohamed of the Oromo Media Network – who is facing terrorism charges himself and Tsedale Lemma Editor-in-chief of the popular and respected Addis Standard news portal.

TPLF’s kangaroo court passes guilty verdict against Yonqthan Teafaye on charges of terrorism for posting his… https://t.co/1uYDLaa9PO

— Jawar Mohammed (@Jawar_Mohammed) May 16, 2017

If you care to understand how insecure (& therefore fragile) the state in #Ethiopia is today, look no further than the court rooms!

— Tsedale Lemma (@tselemma) May 16, 2017

#YonatanTesfaye: guilty of being a concerned national worried about the welfare of his country & disenchanted with direction it’s heading in pic.twitter.com/vRFsFghtZU

— Zecharias Zelalem (@ZekuZelalem) May 16, 2017

Most of us remember #YonatanTesfaye as being an opinionated commentator here on Twitter. Now he may face up to a decade of jail for it. https://t.co/oMUodmZ9jy

— Zecharias Zelalem (@ZekuZelalem) May 16, 2017

Today’s verdict on Yonatan Tesfaye confirms nothing but how freedom of speech is in a critical condition in #Ethiopia.

— ወርቄ (@MerfeQulef) May 16, 2017

“All Yonatan did was express himself online.This isnt a crime,yet he now faces up to 20 years in jail under zis draconian&deeply-flawed law”

— TigistM (@TigistM) May 16, 2017

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