The Federal Police and National Intelligence and Security Service Joint Taskforce disclosed on Thursday that renowned Artist ‘Debebe Eshetu who is found working under camouflage for the self-styled Ginbot 7 group has been put under police custody’, the Ethiopian Radio and Television Agency(ERTA) reported.

According to the news report:

[Debebe Eshetu] was put under control while organizing and coordinating a group of individuals and plotting to carryout a terrorist attack.

The Federal Police put the suspect under custody in line with an arrest warrant issued to it by Court.

The search made by the police into the individual’s residence came up with evidences that support the charge file.

The individual had previously been charged with treason, found guilty and received life sentence but was later pardoned by the government as per his request.

It is to be recalled that Ginbot 7 group was recently labeled as a terrorist group by the House of People’s Representatives.

Gnbot 7 is an organization which advocates violence founded by a United States resident Berhanu Nega (PhD). In 2009, Berhanu Nega masterminded a foiled plot to assassinate government officials, consequently he was sentenced to death in absentia, while Ginbot 7 was proscribed as a terrorist organization. Berhanu Nega officially  works with the Eritrean Government and another home-grown terrorist group, OLF, which plotted the foiled plan to bomb AU Summit last January, according to a UN report.

Debebe Eshetu and Berhanu Nega had been members of an opposition political party that called for a street violence in Nov. 2005 that left 196 persons, including police officers, dead. The two, along dozens of their colleagues,  were subsequently charged and convicted in an Ethiopian Court, observed by US and EU diplomats and lawyers. However, they were released on June 2007 when the President of the Republic accepted their petition for pardon, in which they took responsibility for the loss of life and property.

Following that Berhanu Nega left to the US to form Ginbot 7, while Debebe Eshetu remained in the country and joined another party, which he left later following an intra-party dispute.

The news of the arrest came one day after the Ministry of Justice disclosed the filling of two suits on charges under the Anti-terrorism law, according to the news from the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) citing State Minister for Dispute Affairs of the Ministry of Justice, Berhanu Tsegaye.

The first lawsuit is filed suit involves two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, who were arrested in July during a fight with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). According to ENA:

The two Swedish journalists who were arrested during the fight with ONLF under the file, Abdiwoli Mohammed Ismael, he added.

the Federal Prosecutor has also filed charges on members of ONLF and two Swedish journalists arrested during the fight with ONLF.

The Swedish journalists were charged with advancing and supporting ONLF’s subversive acts and participating in terrorist organization and violating the sovereignty of the nation.

[The official claimed that] the government has concrete evidence for the charges.

Media reports indicated that one of the journalists had previously been deported from Ethiopia for engaging with the same group. News reports also indicated the government has a video tape in which one of the journalists( Johan Persson?) is seen handling a weapon.

The second file suit consists ‘members of the group operating under the mastermind, Elias Kifle, in collaboration with five organizations which are regarded as terrorist groups, and the Government of Eritrea with attempting to commit terror acts’, according to the Ministry. ENA reported:

the suspects, who were organized in underground terror group in [year 201011], were also charged with an attempt of destroying electricity and telephone as well as fiber networks existing in Addis Ababa City, Dessie, Woldiya, Harar, Hawassa, Assosa, Wollega, Jijiga and Gondar by collaborating with foreign terror groups.

The suspects include Elias Kifle, Zerihun Gebreegziabher Tadesse, Woubshet Taye Abebe and Hirut Kifle Woldeyes.

the defendants were accused on four counts of charges. The charges include involving in terror act, commit terrorist act and using fraudulent money for terror act and extending financial support to terrorist acts.

[The official said that] the suspects, Elias Kifle and Hirut Kifle, were also found guilty of committing terror acts previously.

Some of those charged in the second file suit were detained a couple months ago, while the rest reside abroad.

[More on these news, including background info on the detainees, in the coming days on this blog]

Daniel Berhane

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