Authorities in Ethiopia’s northern Amhara region have arrested four employees of a U.S.-based online media outlet, while the whereabouts of two others was unclear, the broadcaster said on Sunday, in the latest round of arrests involving media.
The arrests would add to those of five journalists in another Amhara media outlet on Thursday over what their colleague said was the outlet’s reporting of the activity of a local volunteer militia, known as Fano.
“We have four confirmed employees who are in jail and two unknown. Out of the four, one (is a) fulltime editor, one in the process of hiring for editor position, one fulltime reporter, one human resource and finance lead,” Nisir International Broadcasting management, said on Sunday.
Nisir said three of the employees were arrested on Thursday, and two were in custody in the regional capital Bahir Dar. The third employee and a fourth one who was arrested on Friday are in the town of Gayint, some 160 km (100 miles) from Bahir Dar, Nisir said.
Nisir calls itself an impartial and independent online media agency focusing on Ethiopian news, paying close attention to Amhara region. It did not give a reason for the arrests.
Amhara is the second-most populous region in Ethiopia, and a key constituency for Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed. But recently some Amhara leaders who previously backed his government have publicly criticised his handling of a war with the neighbouring region of Tigray.
Amhara forces and the Fano militia backed Abiy’s federal troops against rebellious forces in northern Tigray when fighting erupted there in 2020.
Critics say Abiy, who won a Nobel Peace Prize after taking office as a reformer in 2018, is cracking down on dissent around Ethiopia. He says he is guaranteeing stability and law and order in the multi-ethnic nation.
The arrests add to those of a prominent general critical of Abiy, and some ethnic Amhara activists in the last week.