Ethiopia Media Authority has suspended the license of popular English-language news website, The Addis Standard, for allegedly advancing the agenda of a terrorist group.
The media regulator announced the suspension in an online statement, saying “the temporary suspension follows complaints and alarming trends in EMA’s monitoring findings.”
The EMA added that it gathered The Addis Standard “has been a platform to advance the terrorist group’s agenda” – a likely reference to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) that the government has been fighting since November.
Publisher of the medium, JAKENN Publishing, describes the development as disturbing, and that it would appeal the decision. It however, did not comment on the allegations that it was advancing terrorist organisations agenda.
“We plan to mount a legal defence against it because we think that this is not the right thing,” its founder, Tsedale Lemma, said.
During a visit to The Addis Standard website on Friday that most recent stories were a day old.
Abiy Ahmed, who swept to power in 2018, has overseen wide-ranging reforms, particularly the lifting of the bans on more than 250 media outlets as well as the release of dozens of journalists. As part of his citation for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, he was praised for ending media censorship.
International media watchdogs, however, say that since the conflict erupted with the TPLF, which controlled Ethiopian politics for nearly three decades until Abiy came to power in 2018, the government has cracked down on the media.
The government designated the TPLF as a terrorist organization in May 2021 but denies press freedoms are deteriorating.
In a statement issued on Sunday, the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission said that 21 journalists from independent YouTube channels Awlo Media and Ethio Forum were arrested.
The Commission said federal police had told it that three of the journalists had since been released.