"Zone 9" Bloggers Charged in Ethiopia

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US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) jokingly introduces a student, who was used as his stand-in for rehearsals, before the start of a town hall meeting with students in Addis Ababa May 26, 2013. That student is Natnail Feleke, one of six bloggers known as "Zone 9ers" that were arrested in April.

JIM YOUNG/AFP/Getty Images

"Zone 9" Bloggers Charged in Ethiopia

Earlier this year, six pro-democracy bloggers, all founders of a group known as 'Zone9,' were arrested in Ethiopia along with three journalists. Last week, formal charges were filed against the group under the country's anti-terrorism law...

Earlier this year, six pro-democracy bloggers, all founders of a group known as 'Zone9,' were arrested in Ethiopia along with three journalists. Last week, formal charges were filed against the group under the country's anti-terrorism law, alleging they have ties to an opposition group known as Ginbot 7. We talk to a colleague of the jailed bloggers and find out what the charges mean for U.S.-Ethiopia relations ahead of the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit next month.

Guests

Endalk Chala

co-founder, Zone9 blog; doctoral student, University of Oregon

Richard Downie

Africa Program Deputy Director and Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies

The Zone 9 Story

We first met some members of Zone 9, a collective with a pro-democracy, pro-constitution message,earlier this year.

In January 2014, Kojo visited Ethiopia and sat down in Addis Ababa in a hotel with three Zone 9 bloggers.

April 2014: Two members of that trio, Befekadu Hailu and Abel Wabella, were arrested along with four other co-founders of the group and three journalists.

April 30, 2014: A week after the arrests, we talked with their colleagues about the country's political environment. The arrests are the latest to raise concerns about political freedom in the rapidly developing nation.

Also at play: On April 30, Oromo students put on non-violent demonstrations against a proposal that would annex some Oromia cities in order to create more land mass for the city of Addis Ababa.

Our listeners in Ethiopia sent us these photos of the growing conflict.

July 2014: Formal charges are filed against the group.

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The Kojo Nnamdi Show is produced by member-supported WAMU 88.5 in Washington DC.