Friday, September 16, 2011

Ethiopian Journalist flees after Wikileaks ‘Exposure’

Journalist Argaw Ashine has left Ethiopia after having been interrogated by officials three times, according to the BBC. He reportedly fled Ethiopia, and is now in an undisclosed location, after he was mentioned in a US Cable of 2009 that Wikileaks revealed last month. The cable linked him to the US, and details the government’s attempt to silence the now- closed private Amharic language Addis Neger newspaper under anti- terrorism laws. He claims that he did not directly pass the information to the US, and that the leak has come as quite a shock since he is not even named as an informant in the cable. However Wikileaks’ ‘revelation’ has put Mr Argaw in a hugely compromising situation; endangering himself, colleagues and members of his family. If convicted of passing information to the US, he could face up to twenty years in jail. Whilst on the one hand, it can be seen that Wikileaks provides an advanced check on the actions of governments and their closed- door proceedings, the detrimental effect that their revelations are having on the lives of individuals must also be taken into account.

Joel Simon, the executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has said, "A citation in one of these cables can easily provide repressive governments with the perfect opportunity to persecute or punish journalists and activists. The threat we sought to avert through redactions of initial Wikileaks cables has now become real."

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