15 July 1996


Journalist detained, released on bond

On 9 July 1996, Mulugeta Lule, manager of the monthly magazine
"Tobia" and the vice chairman of the Ethiopian Free Journalists
Association, received a telephone call from a Lieutenant Shimelis
requesting that he report to the Central Criminal Investigation
Department at Ma'ekelawi Prison for questioning. Upon arrival at
10:00 hours, Lule was interrogated by a Lieutenant Tewelde, who
demanded that he provide an official statement consisting of
personal information and his employment status. Lule was then
informed that two separate charges are being brought against him
by the public prosecutor's office.

The first charge is in connection with an article published in
"Tobia", in December 1995, about a doctor who performed three
surgeries in the same day on the former head of parliament, Major
Admassie Zeleke. The article stated that Zeleke subsequently went
to another hospital for treatment because he did not have faith in
the doctor's abilities.

The second charge was brought against "Tobia" because the magazine
currently does not have a deputy editor-in-chief on staff. In a
conversation with CPJ, Lule said that the Press Law of 1992
requires that publications include listings of their editorial
staff, but nowhere in the law does it state that it is mandatory
to have a deputy editor-in-chief on staff.

In each case Lule had to produce a surety bond of 10,000 birr (US$
1,600), bringing the number of sureties he has given the police to
a total of 16 (at 10,000 birr each). Lule was released at 16:00
hours and is now awaiting a letter from the Central High Court
informing him of a court date for the charges.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to Ethiopian authorities:

  • expressing concern at the prosecution and detention of Lule as
    grave attacks on press freedom
  • urging that the charges be dropped, and Lule allowed to carry out
    his professional duties unhindered

    Appeals To

    His Excellency President Meles Zanawi
    Office of the President
    Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
    Fax: +251 1 514300 (via Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

    Please copy appeals to the originator if possible.

  • Source

    Committee to Protect Journalists
    330 7th Ave., 11th Floor
    New York, NY 10001
    info (@) cpj.org
    Fax:+1 212 4659568
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