Ethiopia activist guilty of terror for Facebook posts critical of government

A judge in Ethiopia’s capital finds a former opposition spokesman guilty of encouraging terrorism with a series of anti-government Facebook posts.

Yonatan Tesfaye was arrested in December 2015 after writing on the social media platform that the government had used “force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion with the public.”

Judge Belayhun Awol ruled the comments “exceeded freedom of expression” and amounted to encouraging terrorism.

The guilty verdict for “encouragement of terrorism” means Yonatan faces a possible sentence of between 10 and 20 years under the country’s anti-terrorism laws, which have been criticized by rights groups and Ethiopia’s allies, such as the United States, for being used to stifle dissent.

“I think the government’s intent and what it seeks is this: to restrict others from speaking freely,” Yonatan’s lawyer Shebru Belete Birru told AFP after the verdict.


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