The Federal High Court in Ethiopia has dropped a life sentence on expatriate journalist and blogger Elias Kifle. Kifle’s occupation is the editor of the Washington D.C.-based blog, Ethiopian Review, where he was sentenced without being present at the courtroom. While there were whispers going around earlier that he could very well be handed down the death penalty which is the maximum for his alleged crime of “political terrorism” in Ethiopia, I am quite sure that he and his family heaved a collective sigh of relief with the new sentence. Kifle is not the only person to be found guilty, as other defendants were also in the same boat as Kifle (although with differing sentences).
“The charges included conspiring to commit acts of terror, rendering support to terrorism, participating in a terrorist organization (Ginbot 7) and money laundering. Elias is also found guilty of masterminding and providing financial support to the other defendants who remained under police custody since June 2011.” Other defendants were sent to the slammer for 14 years and fined 33,000 birrs ($1,500). Just be careful with what you write on the Internet – it might not be a physical realm we are talking about here, but the laws of the land do still apply.