ADDIS ABABA, Thursday
The Ethiopian government has blocked publication of a weekly newspaper Feteh (Justice) which carried a story about the deteriorating health of prime minster Meles Zenawi.
The Ethiopian ministry of Justice wrote to the state-owned printing house Brehanena Selam saying the contents of the weekly newspaper endangered national security.
According to the editor in chief of the paper, Mr Temesgen Desalegn the printing house confiscated 30,000 copies of the newspaper, published last weekend.
Reacting to the incident, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has urged the Ethiopian government to reverse its decision.
“The ban on Feteh’s latest issue illustrates the depth of repression in Ethiopia today, and authorities’ determination to suppress independent coverage of the prime minister,” CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes said.
“Every citizen has a right to be informed about the well-being of their leader and the conduct of their government. Authorities should reverse their decision and allow the publication of Feteh’s weekend edition to proceed,” he added.
Ethiopia’s government routinely eliminates private newspapers and charges journalists under anti-terrorism laws.
Feteh newspaper is one of the remaining independent publications in Ethiopia, under strict government surveillance since last year. Its editor has been charged with more than 35 crimes in the last one and half year.
The latest purge follows reports that said Mr Meles was “critical” in hospital in Brussels quoting diplomatic sources.
“He is in a critical state, his life is in danger,” said a diplomat.
“He is in a critical state but is alive,” said another.
In Addis Ababa, however, government spokesman Bereket Simon denied reports that the 57-year-old premier who has held power in the populous African nation for over two decades was ill.