Ethiopia revokes accreditation of The Economist reporter — The East African


Ethiopi­an author­i­ties on Fri­day revoked the press cre­den­tials of a for­eign jour­nal­ist who had been work­ing for The Econ­o­mist in the Horn of Africa nation.In a let­ter issued Fri­day after­noon and seen by The East­African, the Ethiopi­an Media Author­i­ty (EMA) said it has can­celled media accred­i­ta­tion of Tom Gard­ner, cit­ing fail­ure to main­tain pro­fes­sion­al ethics and vio­la­tions of the coun­try’s laws and reg­u­la­tions. It did not gave details of the allegations.“As a pro­fes­sion­al jour­nal­ist accred­it­ed to work in Ethiopia, you know very well that the con­di­tion of your per­mit is depen­dent on your strict obser­va­tion of pro­fes­sion­al ethics and the rules and the reg­u­la­tions of the coun­try,” it said.“This let­ter is writ­ten to inform you that your accred­i­ta­tion is revoked effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly, and you are no longer allowed to work as a jour­nal­ist in Ethiopia.”EMA said that pri­or to the deci­sion, the author­i­ty had sev­er­al dis­cus­sions with the journalist.However, the author­i­ty alleged that Mr Gard­ner failed to live to stan­dards of con­duct for journalists. 


“Despite our repeat­ed dis­cus­sions, ver­bal warn­ings and writ­ten rep­ri­mands, you have not shown the will­ing­ness to cor­rect your mis­tak­en approach,” the let­ter said.It, how­ev­er, said The Econ­o­mist is wel­come to appoint an “unbi­ased and inde­pen­dent” jour­nal­ist to replace Mr Gardner.A few weeks ago, EMA had issued a warn­ing let­ter to the jour­nal­ist after he post­ed on his pri­vate social media that Prime Min­is­ter Abiy Ahmed and TPLF rebel leader Debre Zion Gebre-Michael had a tele­phone conversation.Authorities warned him to be care­ful about his report­ing, espe­cial­ly on sto­ries that could affect nation­al interest.Since the Tigray con­flict broke out in Novem­ber 2020, the Ethiopi­an gov­ern­ment has been crit­i­cised for cre­at­ing a dif­fi­cult envi­ron­ment for jour­nal­ists and dissidents.Journalists have also com­plained that they have been denied access to war zones where right vio­la­tions, includ­ing mas­sacres, rapes, and oth­er seri­ous crimes, have been reported.The Ethiopi­an gov­ern­ment led by PM Abiy Ahmed, a 2019 Noble Peace Prize win­ner, has been crit­i­cised by sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al right groups for using the state of emer­gency as a tool to arbi­trar­i­ly detain sev­er­al jour­nal­ists to sti­fle crit­i­cal report­ing and to silence war zone news coverage.The Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists’ (CPJ) 2021 prison cen­sus ranked Ethiopia as sub-Saha­ran Africa’s sec­ond-worst jail­er of journalists.“We are very con­cerned. This devel­op­ment is the lat­est sign of Ethiopi­a’s dete­ri­o­rat­ing press free­dom envi­ron­ment,” CPJ’s Africa Pro­gram Coor­di­na­tor, Angela Quin­tal, told The East­African on Friday.Since the con­flict in Tigray erupt­ed, sev­er­al Ethiopi­an jour­nal­ists and trans­la­tors work­ing for a range of inter­na­tion­al media organisation—including to AFP, Nation Media Group, Reuters, the BBC and the Finan­cial Times—have been detained while doing their jobs.Last year Ethiopi­an author­i­ties also revoked press accred­i­ta­tion of a New York Times reporter.