The authorities in Ethiopia have suspended publication of the Amharic-language weekly Fitih, an editor said today, after
he refused to take out the front page news regarding the condition of Prime Minster Meles Zenawi, an issue that has preoccupied the nation.
The editor of the weekly, Temesgen Desalegn said today that the paper, Fitih, didn’t see the light of the day on Friday following a request by state-owned printing enterprise to take out the article. “The manager of the Berhanen Selam Printing Enterprise informed me that they had received orders from higher officials not to print the paper unless I take out the news item. We had a lengthy discussion about the matter, and I was later assured that the paper would come out on Saturday, “said Temesgen.
That didn’t happen. A letter written by the Ministry of Justice to the printing press today says the paper had been suspended. The letter did not elaborate on the matter but Temsegen said the reason was because he decided to “publish an article that was a threat to national security,” he was told. The entire, 30,000 copies edition is now locked in the printing press’s warehouse.
Recently there has been wide condemnation against the country’s main, state-owned printing enterprise that directed newspaper publishers to censor any content that may draw government prosecution under the country’s anti-terrorism law or face cancellation of their printing contracts.
Fitih was one of the last remaining weeklies that take critical stance against the government after papers with similar were closed down. The paper in the past was accused of “writing untruthful information” and “negative reporting and tarnishing the image of the ruling coalition,” – charges that the editor denied. The state prosecutor has brought more than 30 charges against the weekly. Temesgen was summoned by police a couple of times to hear the charges against him.
Ethiopia has arrested close to 200 people, among them journalists and opposition politicians and members, under last year’s anti-terrorism proclamation. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, more journalists have fled Ethiopia than any other country in the world.
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