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  • Ethiopian exile on terror charges in UK

    An Ethiopian political dissident who campaigns against his government from the UK has appeared in court in London charged with nine terrorism offences.

    Tadesse Kersmo is accused of attending a training camp in Eritrea, and possessing information useful to terrorism, including texts on sniper training and urban guerrilla warfare.

    Mr Kersmo works for Ethiopian opposition group Ginbot 7, which is banned in Ethiopia but not in the UK.

    He was arrested after arriving at Heathrow Airport in January.

    Appearing briefly at Westminster Magistrates Court, Mr Kersmo indicated he would plead not guilty to all the charges at his trial.

    The case is the first terrorism charge in the UK in relation to a member of the opposition group which operates openly across Europe and the US.

    Judge Emma Arbuthnot bailed Mr Kersmo subject to certain conditions, including a security of $32,000 (£25,000)

    Mr Kersmo, who is also a management lecturer, was given political asylum in the UK after fleeing Ethiopia in 2009. He later became a British citizen.

    Mr Kersmo has appeared from time to time in the media to argue for democratic changes in Ethiopia and has spoken before of being detained and beaten by government agents.

    Three years ago, he and his supporters lobbied the UK's National Crime Agency to investigate whether the Ethiopian government had used novel surveillance techniques to install spying software on his computer.

    He will next appear in the Central Criminal Court, commonly referred to as The Old Bailey, on 20 July.

    Source: BBC

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  • Ethiopia secures about 40,000 exit visas for its undocumented citizens living in Saudi Arabia

    The Ethiopian government has secured exit visas for about 40,000 undocumented citizens living in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

    The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has subsequently dispatched a team to Saudi to help in the safe return of the nationals who are taking advantage of an Amnesty program between the two governments.

    Ethiopia’s Foreign Minister, Workneh Gebeyehu who visited Saudi also held talks with the national airline, Ethiopian Airlines, on how best to bring back the nationals.

    Barely a week ago, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn expressed worry over the refusal of nationals illegally resident in Saudi to return despite the amnesty program.

    Desalegn said he feared that the Saudi government will resort to forcibly deport Ethiopians who have refused to voluntarily return home.

    The Premier was quoted by the Ethiopia News Agency as saying, “the situation that made the Saudi Government forcibly deport our citizens is being created. Therefore, it is better if our citizens come back home before various problems arise seizing the opportunity they are given even in the remaining short period”.

    The 90 day amnesty at the end of June and authorities said the numbers of people they expected to return under the program was all but underwhelming.

    The period for illegal foreigners to leave the oil-producing giant started on March 29, 2017. Those who fail to leave will be subjected to fines or face legal measures, which include forced deportation.

    Most rich Middle East countries hire thousands of domestic helpers from Africa and Asia. Most of these helpers often complain of abuse from their employers.


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  • Ethiopia court found former Blue party official guilty of terrorism charges

    A court in Ethiopia has found a former opposition spokesman guilty of "encouraging terrorism" with a series of anti-government Facebook posts. 

    Yonatan Tesfaye of the Blue Party was arrested in December 2015 after writing on the social media platform that the government had used "force against the people instead of using peaceful discussion", AFP news agency reports.

    Mr Yonatan maintained his innocence throughout his trial, but Judge Belayhun Awol ruled that his comments "exceeded freedom of expression" and amounted to encouraging terrorism, it adds.   

    "I think the government's intent and what it seeks is this: to restrict others from speaking freely," Mr Yonatan's lawyer Shebru Belete Birru told AFP after the verdict.  

    He now faces a possible sentence of between 10 and 20 years under Ethiopia's  anti-terrorism laws. 

    More than 650 people, including 63 policemen, have died in a wave of anti-government protests that began in Ethiopia in November 2015, accordin to official figures. 

    Source: AFP


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  • Ethiopian botanical scientist plans to open Ethiopia's first botanic garden

    A leading Ethiopian botanical scientist plans to open Ethiopia's first botanic garden.

    Professor Sebsebe Demissew says the continent needs people with the skills to advance plant research.

    Prof. Sebsebe Demissew, a leading Ethiopian botanical scientist, has been selected to be the recipient of this year’s prestigious Kew International Medal. The Medal is an annual award given to individuals for distinguished, internationally-recognised work aligned with the mission of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (RBGK), to be the global resource for plant and fungal knowledge, building an understanding of the world’s plants and fungi upon which all our lives depend.

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