Reeyot Alemu became one of the three journalists and two bloggers as well as six Oromo university students to have walked free from an Ethiopian prison between yesterday and today.
Reeyot Alemu, a teacher by training and profession until 2000, was a regular columnist at different newspapers including Feteh, a weekly Amharic critical of the ruling EPRDF which closed down publication nearly two years ago.
Reeyot was arrested in June 2011 and was charged on three different counts of plotting an act of terrorism by the federal high court 3rd criminal bench. Reeyot was subsequently sentenced to 14 years in prison. An appellate court later paroled her sentence to five years in only one charge of using journalism to support a terrorist organization.
Reeyot was the recipient of the 2012 International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF)’s ‘Courage in Journalism’ Award for her “refusal to self-censor in a place where that practice is standard, and her unwillingness to apologize for truth-telling, even though contrition could win her freedom.” And in May May 2013, she was awarded the UNESCO Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize.
She was awarded both in absentia.