by Eskinder Nega
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia
This article, originally published in the print edition of the New York Times, July 24, 2013, is a plea by jailed journalist Eskinder Nega, for the United States to exert its influence to improve conditions in Ethiopia.
Take action for Eskinder
I am jailed, with around 200 other inmates, in a wide hall that looks like a warehouse. For all of us, there are only three toilets. Most of the inmates sleep on the floor, which has never been swept. About 1,000 prisoners share the small open space here at Kaliti Prison. One can guess our fate if a communicable disease breaks out.
I was arrested in September 2011 and detained for nine months before I was found guilty in June 2012 under Ethiopia’s overly broad Anti-Terrorism Proclamation, which ostensibly covers the “planning, preparation, conspiracy, incitement and attempt” of terrorist acts. In reality, the law has been used as a pretext to detain journalists who criticize the government. Last July, I was sentenced to 18 years in prison.