In 2009, Ethiopian journalist Argaw Ashine began researching the government’s alleged attempts to silence Addis Neger, the nation’s leading independent newspaper.
A US Diplomatic Cable written at the time, and recently released by WikiLeaks, discusses Ashine’s reporting and notes an anonymous source within the Government Communication Affairs Office who told Ashine that the agency planned to target Addis Neger’s top journalists in order “silence the newspaper’s analysis.”
The problem: Wikileaks didn’t redact Ashine’s name and the Ethiopian government’s been harassing him in an effort to get him to give up the source’s name. After repeatedly being brought before authorities, Ashine fled the country when told by police he faced “unspecified consequences” if he did not cooperate.
“It was a bit scary,” Ashine told the BBC, ”[and] not a wise idea to stay in such a scenario.”
Via the Committee to Protect Journalists:
“The threat we sought to avert through redactions of initial WikiLeaks cables has now become real. A citation in one of these cables can easily provide repressive governments with the perfect opportunity to persecute or punish journalists and activists,” said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. “WikiLeaks must take responsibility for its actions and do whatever it can to reduce the risk to journalists named in its cables. It must put in place systems to ensure that such disclosures do not reoccur.”…
…Ashine is the chairman of the Ethiopian Environment Journalists Association, the deputy chair of Ethiopia’s Foreign Correspondents’ Association, and the local correspondent of Kenya’s Nation Media Group, according to CPJ research.
Addis Neger stopped publishing in November 2009 and the paper’s editors fled the country for fear that they would be charged under Ethiopia’s broad anti-terrorism laws.