Eskinder is an award-winning journalist. Last May he received the Pen America's Freedom to Write prize. Eskinder and others on trial are members of the opposition party Unity for Democracy and Justice.
Eskinder was arrested last year in September. He wrote a blog criticizing the government for arrests made under Ethiopia's anti-terrorism legislation. Since 1993 when Eskinder opened his first newspaper in Ethiopia he has been detained by the government seven times.
Amnesty International complained
that the trial fell short of international standards:
"The imprisonment… is emblematic of the Ethiopian government's determination to gag any dissenting voice in the country,"
Claire Beston Amnesty researcher
in Ethiopia also criticized the sentence:
"The Ethiopian government is treating calls for peaceful protest as a terrorist act and is outlawing the legitimate activity of journalists and opposition members."
The Ethiopian government claims to be fighting separatist rebel movements backed by Eritrea. While there is some truth to this
human rights groups claim that the government is using anti-terrorism legislation to crack down on any opposition to the government. Ethiopia receives considerable aid from the west. It has helped out in the fight against radical Islamists in Somalia.
Eskinder's defense lawyer
"In my personal opinion, we rebutted the prosecution's evidence beyond reasonable doubt, I think it's been not reasonably considered,"
Eskinder will appeal his sentence. For more see this article
as well. In the article Eskinder says:
“Freedom is partial to no race. Freedom has no religion. Freedom favors no ethnicity,”