Yonatan Tesfaye, the spokesman of the opposition Semayawi (Blue) party, was arbitrarily arrested in December 2015 and held in lengthy pre-trial detention for comments he posted on Facebook. The government says his posts against a government plan to extend the capital’s administrative authority to the Oromia region were in pursuit of the objectives of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), which it considers a terrorist organization and he was held without charge for months on end. It was not until 4 May 2016 that he was charged with “incitement, planning, preparation, conspiracy and attempt” to commit a terrorist act. The state prosecutor charged that Yonatan Tesfaye’s remarks were in pursuit of the OLF’s objectives as stated by The Amnesty International.
The authorities objected to several posts including one in which he said the government used “force against the people instead of peaceful discussion”.
According to FEDERAL NEGARIT GAZETA OF THE FEDERAL DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF ETHIOPIA, “Encouragement of Terrorism: Whosoever publishes or causes the publication of a statement that is likely to be understood by some or all of the members of the public to whom it is published as a direct or indirect encouragement or other inducements to them to the commission or preparation or instigation of an act of terrorism stipulated under Article 3 of this Proclamation is punishable with rigorous imprisonment from10 to 20 years.”
Yonatan, who was a spokesperson for the opposition Blue Party, is due to be sentenced later this month and faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment, Yonatan’s sentencing is adjourned to May 25.