For three journalists and nine bloggers, charged with plotting to destabilize the nation, time is running slowly as they await their much stalled trial was delayed again until August 20.
“We blog because we care” is the motto of the blogging collective Zone Nine, under this words a group of young Ethiopian bloggers write mostly of politics and social issues, often criticizing the government of their country.
This critical stance is the reason nine members of the collective were subtracted during the night from their homes last April by Ethiopian special forces under charges of terrorism. The hearing, planned for this week, was again postponed to August 20, has it has been for several months now.
"They took training in how to make explosives and planned to train others," judge Tareke Alemayehu told the court, adding that the collective was a cover to plot to destabilize the nation.
Human rights activist, both in Ethiopia and abroad, dismissed the terrorism charges and qualified the imprisonment as a clear attack on freedom of speech.
Human Rights Watch (HRW) deputy Africa director, Leslie Keflow, thinks Ethiopia is making “A mockery of it’s own legal system,” and added, "Hiding behind an abusive anti-terrorism law to prosecute bloggers and journalists for doing their jobs is an affront to the Ethiopian constitution,".
Ethiopian anti-terrorism laws are declared by the NGO to be only used as a way to silence dissent and jail critics. Under the law, and along the bloggers, several journalist have been jailed, including two Swedish jailed for 11 years in 2012, who got pardoned after serving 15 months.