Court orders Ethiopian journalist to be released on bail

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An Ethiopian court has ordered Ethiopian journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro to be released on bail after being imprisoned for months without charges.

A judge in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday granted bail to Kiyaro while prosecutors determine whether or not to press charges against him. Kiyaro remained in custody while bail procedures were being followed before his expected release.

Kiyaro, 30, a video journalist accredited to The Associated Press, was detained on Nov. 28 in Addis Ababa under the country’s war-related state of emergency law.

Kiyaro is accused of "serving the purposes" of what the government has classified a terrorist group by interviewing its officials, according to reports by Ethiopian state media, citing federal police.Local journalist Thomas Engida was arrested at the same time and faces similar charges.

If the journalists are found guilty of violating Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law or the state of emergency law, they could face sentences of seven to 15 years behind bars, federal police inspector Tesfaye Olani has told state media.

State of emergency

Despite the granting of bail after four months of police investigation and detention, it still remains uncertain whether prosecutors will proceed to press charges against Kiyaro.

The state of emergency was lifted in February as the government cited changing conditions in the deadly conflict between Ethiopian forces and those of the northern Tigray region.

"We are pleased that journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro has been granted bail and we are eager for his release from prison after being detained in Ethiopia for more than 120 days," Julie Pace, the AP's executive editor, said in response to the bail order. "Amir is an independent journalist who has been targeted because of his work and we urge the Ethiopian authorities to drop their investigation", she added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists said dozens of journalists had been arrested after Ethiopia issued the State of Emergency decree. In its 2021 report, the organization ranked the country at the 11th place of the countries imprisoning journalists.

In early march over 40 Ethiopian journalists called on the government to respect media rights in an open letter.

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