January 27, 2012 | By Jillian York

This Week in Internet Censorship: Ethiopian Blogger Sentenced, Tunisians and Polish Keep Up Fight for Free Expression

Ethiopian blogger smacked with life sentence

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopian blogger Elias Kifle was handed a life sentence in absentia this week for his coverage of banned opposition groups.  Kifle, who lives in the United States, is editor of the Washington-based opposition website Ethiopian Review and was previously handed a life sentence, in 2007, on charges of treason. Kifle was sentenced along with columnist Reeyot Alemu and editor Woubshet Taye, both of whom live and work in Ethiopia and received 14-year prison sentences.

EFF condemns the decision by the Addis Ababa court and echoes CPJ's call to the Supreme Court to reverse the convictions.

Tunisian fight for Internet freedom continues

EFF has stood behind the Tunisian Internet Agency (ATI) in its fight to keep the Tunisian Internet free and open. Next month, reports Global Voices, the ATI will stand in Tunisia's highest court, the Court of Cassation, for a final appeal against the decision to force it to implement filtering of pornographic content.

In the article, author Afef Abrougui points out that now-President Moncef Marzouki had previously opposed the allocation of funds for the purchase of Internet censorship equipment, but now supports "red lines" limiting freedom of expression. Though the decision to block pornography is supported by a number of Tunisian citizens, there is significant opposition, mainly a result of lingering sentiment toward the oppressive censorship policies during the Ben Ali era.

EFF upholds its support for the ATI and will stand behind them in their appeal next month.

Polish citizens protest ACTA

EFF has written extensively on our opposition to ACTA. That opposition is not merely the domain of rights groups in the United States, however, as was demonstrated this past week when Polish citizens took to the streets to express their opposition to the bill. The Warsaw Voice reported thousands of street protesters, while Global Voices reported more than 900 Polish websites going dark in protest on January 24.

As we have stated, "ACTA may have been signed by public officials, but it’s crystal clear that they are not representing the public interest." We encourage the international community to lobby their local representatives to oppose this bill.


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