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Eskinder Nega

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Eskinder Nega
እስክንድር ነጋ
Eskinder Nega in 2018
Chairperson of Balderas For Genuine Democracy Party
In office
September 2019 – 11 August 2022
Preceded byposition established
Succeeded byAmaha Dagnew
Personal details
Born (1969-11-07) 7 November 1969 (age 54)[1]
Addis Ababa, Ethiopian Empire
SpouseSerkalem Fasil
EducationAddis Ababa University
AwardsOxfam Novib/PEN Award

Eskinder Nega (Ge'ez: እስክንድር ነጋ, born 7 November 1969)[1][2] is an Ethiopian journalist, blogger and politician who has been jailed several times by the Ethiopian government on convictions for treason and terrorism.[3]

Early life[edit]

Eskinder was born to highly educated parents, his father having done graduate work at Rutgers University and his mother at the American University of Beirut.[4] They eventually divorced and his mother, with whom Eskinder lived, opened a clinic.[4] Eskinder is of Amhara ethnic heritage.[5]

Eskinder attended Sandford School in Addis Ababa.[citation needed] Eskinder moved to the United States in 1980s where he attended college, [1] then studied economics at American University.[6][7]


Eskinder returned to Ethiopia in 1991 after the Marxist Derg was ousted by EPRDF forces. In fact he became one of the adversaries to the regime in the years to come[1] He founded his first newspaper, Ethiopis, in 1993.[8] He also founded other newspapers such as, Askual, Satenaw, and Menelik.

2005: Treason conviction[edit]

As editor of the newspaper Satenaw, Eskinder was arrested on 28 November 2005 following demonstrations against the results of the Ethiopian general election on 15 May 2005. Nega was charged with the capital offenses of treason, "outrages against the Constitution" and "incitement to armed conspiracy".[2] Amnesty International designated him a prisoner of conscience, "detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression", and called for his immediate release. The group also protested the "poor and unsanitary" conditions of his detention at Karchele prison.[2]

Eskinder was found guilty and served seventeen months' imprisonment before being released by presidential pardon at the end of 2007.[9] Following the conviction, Nega's license to practice journalism was revoked[8] and his newspaper was closed by authorities in 2007.[1] He instead began to publish online.[1]

2012: Terrorism conviction[edit]

Eskinder was arrested again along with four politicians on 14 September 2011 after publishing a column that criticized both the Ethiopian government's detainment of journalists as suspected terrorists and its arrest of Ethiopian actor and activist Debebe Eshetu.[3] Ethiopian anti-terrorism legislation prohibits "any reporting deemed to 'encourage' or 'provide moral support' to groups and causes the government deems 'terrorists'".[8]

Eskinder and his co-defendants, including Andualem Aragie, were accused of involvement in Ginbot 7, a group that was recently added to Ethiopian list of terrorist organizations.[9] In November, he and his co-defendants were accused by state media of being "spies for foreign forces".[8] He was found guilty of terrorism charges on 23 January 2012.[8] On 13 July 2012, Eskinder was sentenced to eighteen years in jail on charges of terrorism.[10] In 2013, a UN panel found Eskinder Nega's jailing a violation of international law.[11]

After delaying a decision on seven occasions, the Federal Supreme Court upheld Eskinder's 18-year sentence on 1 May 2013.[12] On 24 July 2013, Eskinder's "Letter from Ethiopia's Gulag" was published as a New York Times op-ed.[13]

2018–2020: Release, further arrests and release again[edit]

In January 2018, the prison holding Eskinder Nega was announced to be shut down, with political prisoners freed in order to "foster national reconciliation".[14] He was only allowed freedom if he signed a confession saying that he was a member of the Ginbot 7 group designated terrorists by the federal government; but Eskinder refused, saying that it was a false confession.[15] Eskinder Nega was freed on 14 February 2018, along with several other political prisoners.[16] He then launched Ethiopis, a weekly Amharic newspaper.

On the evening of 25 March 2018, the Ethiopian Security Forces have re-arrested Eskinder and other journalists and politicians at a social event outside the capital, Addis Ababa. Eskinder was accused of displaying a prohibited national flag and gathering in violation of an official state of emergency but was later released without a charge on the evening of 5 April after spending twelve days of unwarranted, inhumane imprisonment.

In September 2019, Eskinder Nega founded Balderas for True Democracy Party.

On 25 April 2020, Eskinder was once again arrested by Addis Ababa Police on grounds that are yet to be specified but released the same day. On 30 June 2020, he was arrested again during the Hachalu Hundessa riots for inciting violence and chaos.[17][18]

On 7 January 2022, during Orthodox Christmas, Eskinder Nega has been freed after one and half year in prison.[5]

On 20 April 2022, Eskinder and other members of Balderas for True Democracy Party were arrested in Arba Minch town while the party was gathering signatures to expand their party to other areas outside of Addis Ababa.[19]

Awards and honors[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f J. David Goodman (2 May 2012). "Imprisoned Ethiopian Journalist Is Honored With PEN Award". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  2. ^ a b c "UA 214/06 Fear of Torture / Ill-treatment/ harsh prison conditions/ prisoner of conscience". Amnesty International. 7 August 2006. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  3. ^ a b c "Jailed Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega honoured". BBC News. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
  4. ^ a b Nega, Eskinder (March 17, 2014). "Letter to My Son" (PDF). www.wan-ifra.org. Kaliti Prison, Addis Ababa. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Ethiopia announces amnesty for jailed opposition politicians | DW | 07.01.2022". Deutsche Welle.
  6. ^ Constable, Pamela (August 5, 2012). "Journalist jailed in Ethiopiais championed in D.C., abroad". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 August 2017.
  7. ^ Hunter-Gault, Charlayne (July 17, 2012). "The Dangerous Case of Eskinder Nega". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
  8. ^ a b c d e Peter James Spielmann (2 May 2012). "PEN honors jailed Ethiopian journalist". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on 31 August 2013. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Ethiopia must end crackdown on government critics". Amnesty International. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2012.
  10. ^ "Ethiopian blogger Eskinder Nega jailed for 18 years". BBC News. July 13, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  11. ^ Tom Rhodes (April 5, 2013). "UN panel: Eskinder Nega jailing violates international law". Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  12. ^ "Eskinder Nega's 18-year sentence upheld, four other journalists remain imprisoned under antiterrorism law". PEN International. May 13, 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-09-20.
  13. ^ Nega, Eskinder (2013-07-24). "Letter From Ethiopia's Gulag". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-05.
  14. ^ Aaron Maasho (January 3, 2018). "Ethiopia to free jailed politicians to "foster national reconciliation" – PM". Reuters.
  15. ^ Danny O'Brien (February 12, 2018). "Imprisoned Blogger Eskinder Nega Won't Sign a False Confession". Electronic Frontier Foundation.
  16. ^ "Ethiopia frees top journalist Eskinder Nega after 7 years in jail". Africanews. 2018-02-14. Archived from the original on 2020-12-04. Retrieved 2020-12-05.
  17. ^ "Eskinder Nega arrested in the capital Addis Ababa". Borkena. 1 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  18. ^ "ከአቶ ጃዋር መሐመድ ጋራ 35 ሰዎች ታሰሩ". ቪኦኤ. 30 June 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  19. ^ "Balderas ባልደራስ ለእውነተኛ ዴሞክራሲ". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 2022-06-12.
  20. ^ "2014 Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Eskinder Nega of Ethiopia". World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers. June 9, 2014. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  21. ^ "Ethiopia's Eskinder Nega named IPI Press Freedom Hero". International Press Institute. April 25, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  22. ^ "Writers Eskinder Nega and Milagros Socorro receive the 2018 Oxfam Novib/PEN International Award for Freedom of Expression". PEN International. 13 February 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.