New York City, May 11, 2012—PEN American Center President Peter Godwin issued the following statement in response to the announcement by the Federal High Court in Addis Ababa that it was postponing issuing a verdict in the trial of journalist Eskinder Nega because the court needed more time to copy files. Nega, who earlier this month was honored with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award for his courageous defense of press freedom and the freedom to write in Ethiopia, is in prison and standing trial on bogus terrorism charges that could carry the death penalty.

“We are disappointed Eskinder Nega’s ordeal didn’t come to an end today with the acquittal he deserves. The trial proceedings only reinforced the baselessness of the charges against him, and the court’s explanation for the delay in issuing a verdict—that it needs another six weeks to transcribe the record—does little to inspire confidence in the court’s workings.

“We ask the world to join with us in pressing the Meles government to bring the unjust persecution of Eskinder Nega and his fellow journalists in Ethiopia to an end.”

PEN American Center is the largest of the 144 centers of PEN International, the world’s oldest human rights organization and the oldest international literary organization. The Freedom to Write Program of PEN American Center works to protect the freedom of the written word wherever it is imperiled. It defends writers and journalists from all over the world who are imprisoned, threatened, persecuted, or attacked in the course of carrying out their profession.

Sarah Hoffman, (212) 334-1660 ext. 111