Ethiopia frees some imprisoned journalists on the eve of Obama’s historic visit

Tesfalem Waldyes, Asmamaw Hailegeorgis, Zelalem Kibret, and six of their colleagues were arrested in April 2014 by Ethiopian authorities for “accepting money and working with foreign organizations and rights activists and using social media to destabilize the country,” a violation of the country’s controversial anti-terrorism law.
Ethiopian journalists hold placards as they shout slogans during a demonstration at the Ethiopian Embassy in Nairobi, Tuesday, May 2, 2006.
The other six journalists remain in jail.

The White House announced in June that president Barack Obama will become the first sitting US leader to visit Ethiopia, as part of a trip to east Africa later this month. However, the administration was quickly criticized by human-rights groups, who say his visit is at odds with “the president’s oft-repeated rhetoric about advancing human rights and strengthening African democracy and institutions.” The release looks like a concession by the regime to smooth the president’s path.

While Ethiopia boasts one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it nevertheless has an abysmal human-rights record. Freedom House, the watchdog organization, ranks the country as one of the the worst performing in freedom, civil liberties and political rights.

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