Eskinder Nega

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Eskinder Nega
እስክንድር ነጋ
Born c. 1968
Nationality Ethiopian
Alma mater American University
Occupation Journalist
Years active 1993-2011
Spouse(s) Serkalem Fasil

Eskinder Nega (Ge'ez: እስክንድር ነጋ, born c. 1968[1]) is an Ethiopian journalist and blogger who has been jailed seven times by the Ethiopian government on convictions for treason and terrorism.[2] In 2012, he was awarded PEN America's Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write prize.[2]

Early life[edit]

Nega was born to highly educated parents, his father having done graduate work at Rutgers University and his mother at the American University of Beirut.[3] They eventually divorced and his mother, with whom Nega lived, opened a clinic.[3] Nega attended Sanford School in Addis Ababa.[citation needed] Nega moved to the United States in 1980s where he attended high school,[4] then studied political science and economics at American University.[5][6]


Nega returned to Ethiopia in 1991 after the Marxist Derg was ousted by EPRDF forces.[4] He founded his first newspaper, Ethiopis, in 1993.[7]

2005 treason conviction[edit]

As editor of the newspaper Satenaw, Nega 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".[1] 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.[1]

Nega was found guilty and served seventeen months' imprisonment before being released by presidential pardon at the end of 2007.[8] Following the conviction, Nega's license to practice journalism was revoked[7] and his newspaper was closed by authorities in 2007.[4] He instead he began to publish online.[4]

2012 terrorism conviction[edit]

Eskinder was arrested again 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.[2] Ethiopian anti-terrorism legislation prohibits "any reporting deemed to 'encourage' or 'provide moral support' to groups and causes the government deems 'terrorists'.[7]

Along with four politicians arrested the same day, Nega was accused of involvement in Ginbot 7, a group recently added to Ethiopia's list of terrorist organizations.[8] In November, he and his co-defendants were accused by state media of being "spies for foreign forces".[7] Nega was found guilty of terrorism charges on 23 January 2012.[7] On July 13, 2012 journalist and blogger Eskinder has been sentenced to 18 years in jail for violating the country's anti-terrorism legislation.

A U.N. panel found that Nega's imprisonment was "a result of his peaceful exercise of the right to freedom of expression," according to a report published in April 2013.[1]

After delaying a decision on seven occasions, Ethiopia’s Supreme Court upheld Nega's 18-year sentence on May 1, 2013. [2]

On July 24, 2013: Nega's "Letter from Ethiopia’s Gulag" published as New York Times op-ed.[9]


2017 International Press Institute (IPI)’s 69th World Press Freedom Hero. 2014 Golden Pen of Freedom Awarded to Nega [3] May 1, 2012, PEN honored Eskinder with the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award


  1. ^ 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. 
  2. ^ a b c "Jailed Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega honoured". BBC News. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2017-08-05. 
  3. ^ a b Nega, Eskinder (March 17, 2014). "Letter to My Son" (PDF). Kaliti Prison, Addis Ababa. Retrieved August 6, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b c d J. David Goodman (2 May 2012). "Imprisoned Ethiopian Journalist Is Honored With PEN Award". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  5. ^ Constable, Pamela (August 5, 2012). "Journalist jailed in Ethiopiais championed in D.C., abroad". Washington Post. Retrieved 5 August 2017. 
  6. ^ Hunter-Gault, Charlayne (July 17, 2012). "The Dangerous Case of Eskinder Nega". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2017-08-06. 
  7. ^ 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. 
  8. ^ a b "Ethiopia must end crackdown on government critics". Amnesty International. 16 September 2011. Retrieved 24 May 2012. 
  9. ^ Nega, Eskinder (2013-07-24). "Letter From Ethiopia's Gulag". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-05.