International PEN protests the one-year prison sentence handed down to newspaper editor Ezedin Mohamed of the newspaper Al-Quds on January 29, 2010, for an article criticizing the Prime Minister of Ethiopia. PEN believes that Mohamed’s conviction and imprisonment is in direct violation of his right to freedom of expression and opinion and is calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Background Information

Ezedin Mohamed, publisher and editor of Al-Quds, Ethiopia’s largest Islamic newspaper, was sentenced to one year in prison on January 29, 2010. The exact nature of the charges is not clear but it is understood they relate to a January 2008 column that criticized Prime Minister Meles Zenawi for statements he made during an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian. The Al-Quds column reportedly challenged Zenawi’s characterization of his country as “Orthodox Christian Ethiopia.” 

Mohamed was previously arrested on criminal defamation charges in February 2008, along with Al-Quds publisher Maria Kadim and Salafiyya editor Ibrahim Mohamed Ali. The three were held in custody for two weeks before being released on bail.

The editor has reportedly begun serving his sentence at Kality Prison outside the capital Addis Ababa.

Mohamed is the third newspaper editor to be jailed in Ethiopia in the last six months. On August 24, 2009, Ibrahim Mohamed Ali of Salafiyya and Asrat Wedajo, former editor of the now-defunct Seife Nebelbal, were each sentenced to one year in prison for their coverage of sensitive issues. They were reportedly convicted on under now-obsolete press laws for articles published several years ago.

Write A Letter

  • Protesting the one-year prison sentence handed to Al-Quds editor Ezedin Mohamed on January 29, 2010, for an article criticizing Prime Minister Meles Zenawi;
  • Pointing out that his conviction is in violation of his right to freedom of expression protected under international human rights treaties to which Ethiopia is a party, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights;
  • Calling for Mohamed’s immediate and unconditional release.

Send Your Letter To

Minister of Justice
Berhanu Hailu
Ministry of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa
Fax: +251 11 551 7775

Minister of Foreign Affairs
Mr Seyoum Mesfin
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
PO Box 393
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Fax: +251 11 551 43 00 

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative of Ethiopia in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after April 2, 2010: ftw [at]