Ethiopia: CPJ Calls for Swift and Credible Investigation Into Burglary of Ethiopia Insider Office

Nairobi — In response to the recent burglary of the privately owned news outlet Ethiopia Insider, including the stealing of video production equipment, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:

“The burglary of Ethiopia Insider, an outlet with a reputation for critical and independent journalism, could have a devastating impact on its operations,” said CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative, Muthoki Mumo. “Police should investigate this incident, transparently determine its motive, and hold those responsible to account. A credible investigation will go far to reassure other media outlets that they are safe in Addis Ababa.”

Around 7 am on July 17, an Ethiopia Insider employee reporting for work found that the outlet’s office in Addis Ababa, the capital, had been robbed overnight. A locker, cabinet, and drawer were broken into, and three cameras, a smartphone, four laptops, and six camera lenses were taken, according to a statement issued by Haq Media and Communication, which manages Ethiopia Insider, and Tesfalem Waldyes, the outlet’s cofounder and editor-in-chief.

The office’s door was not broken or its lock tampered with, Tesfalem told CPJ, saying the outlet had reported the incident to police, who were investigating. Tesfalem said he did not know who was behind the burglary, but believed that the incident was “not a random robbery.” He noted that Ethiopia Insider shares a building with a photo studio, which owns similar equipment but was not robbed.

Tesfalem said it was possible that that equipment was “selectively” taken to do the most harm to the company’s video reporting capabilities, noting that other valuables, such as lighting equipment, microphones, camera batteries, and an audio recorder were left behind.

Over the last three years, CPJ has documented a difficult environment for journalists in Ethiopia, characterized by frequent arrests and physical attacks on journalists, the expulsion of at least two foreign correspondents, and internet disruptions.

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