CAPE TOWN, South Africa -- An Ethiopian court has ordered Ethiopian journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro to be released on bail after being imprisoned for four months without charges.
A judge in the capital, Addis Ababa, on Tuesday granted bail to Kiyaro while prosecutors determine whether or not to press charges against him. Kiyaro remained in custody while bail procedures were being followed before his expected release.
Kiyaro, 30, a video journalist accredited to The Associated Press, was detained on Nov. 28 in Addis Ababa under the country’s war-related state of emergency powers.
Kiyaro is accused of “serving the purposes” of what the government has classified a terrorist group by interviewing its officials, according to reports by Ethiopian state media, citing federal police. Local journalist Thomas Engida was arrested at the same time and faces similar charges.
If the journalists are found guilty of violating Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law or the state of emergency law, they could face sentences of seven to 15 years behind bars, federal police inspector Tesfaye Olani has told state media.
Despite the granting of bail after four months of police investigation and detention, it still remains uncertain whether prosecutors will proceed to press charges against Kiyaro. The state of emergency was lifted in February as the government cited changing conditions in the deadly conflict between Ethiopian forces and those of the northern Tigray region.
“We are pleased that journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro has been granted bail and we are eager for his release from prison after being detained in Ethiopia for more than 120 days," Julie Pace, the AP's executive editor, said in response to the bail order.
“However, the investigation against him remains ongoing, with no charges filed,” Pace said. "Amir is an independent journalist who has been targeted because of his work and we urge the Ethiopian authorities to drop their investigation.”