Nairobi, July 15, 2021 (CPJ) – In response to Ethiopian authorities’ withdrawal today of the news website Addis Standard’s license, prompting the outlet to suspend operations, the Committee to Protect Journalists issued the following statement:
“For years, Addis Standard has been an important source of critical reporting and commentary on Ethiopia. Today’s move to withdraw its license is the latest demonstration of the government’s hostility towards independent journalism,” said Muthoki Mumo, CPJ’s sub-Saharan Africa representative. “Authorities should immediately restore Addis Standard’s license, ensure that it can operate independently, and cease all efforts to harass and censor journalists and media outlets.”
The Addis Standard tweeted a statement today saying that it had ceased operations after the Ethiopia Media Authority, the country’s statutory regulator, had withdrawn the license of the outlet’s publisher, JAKENN Publishing P.L.C. The regulator did not provide any reason for the decision, that statement said.
Addis Standard was established as a magazine in 2011, and became an online-only outlet in 2016 amid government restrictions that led printers to refuse to publish it, according to news reports and the outlet’s website.
Yonatan Tesfaye, deputy director-general of the media authority, told CPJ in a phone call that the regulator had suspended Addis Standard’s license pending investigation, following complaints that the outlet was undermining Ethiopia’s national security by publishing content that was illegal and “legitimizes terrorist groups.” He declined to elaborate on what specific content was cited in those complaints, or the specific laws that the outlet allegedly contravened, saying that the authority would provide details later.
Yonatan said, contrary to Addis Standard’s statement, that the outlet had been informed about the reason for the license withdrawal.