Statement: VOA Condemns Harassment of Reporter in Ethiopia

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Voice of America is condemning the harassment of a VOA reporter who was forced to erase recordings she made during a protest rally Friday at the main mosque in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa.

Local VOA reporter Marthe van der Wolf was briefly detained by police as she gathered information about a demonstration against alleged government interference in Sunday’s planned election of an Islamic Council.  While she was under detention, Van der Wolf says she was forced to erase the recordings she made of the rally.

“Reporters must be allowed to do their work without fear of being harassed or intimidated by authorities,” VOA Director David Ensor said.  “The latest incident appears to be part of a pattern of behavior designed to prevent journalists from doing their jobs. Such harassment will not stop news from being reported,” Ensor said.

Voice of America is also concerned about the detention of a group of people who took part in a separate demonstration against alleged government efforts to confiscate their property for a housing development in two small villages on the outskirts of Addis Ababa.  Two of those rounded up at their homes by authorities early Friday had given interviews with a local VOA reporter the day before.

Voice of America, the Committee to Protect Journalists and other organizations have previously expressed concern about the harassment of reporters in the country and Ethiopian government efforts to block international news broadcasts and programs.

VOA officials urge Ethiopian authorities to stop jamming shortwave broadcasts to the region. The latest reports from the country indicate there has been renewed interference with VOA broadcasts in Amharic and Tigrigna.  The intermittent jamming of the VOA signals has been a longstanding issue.

Voice of America’s Horn of Africa Service broadcasts news and information to Ethiopia in Amharic, Tigrigna and Afan Oromo.

For more information about this release contact Kyle King at the VOA Public Relations office in Washington at (202) 203-4959, or write kking@voanews.com.  For more information about VOA visit the Public Relations website at www.insidevoa.com, or the main news site at www.voanews.com.

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