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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Swedes 'were tortured' in Ethiopia

Check back with ETP for more news throughout the day

Also in the news:
[Ethiopia: Amnesty International Annual Report 2007] - [African countries in tariff move] - [East Africa attracts hunters for oil and gas] - [Rights group says EU should sanction instead of engaging Eritrea]

[Arrests Made In Kenyan Beheadings] - [Dems, GOP claim victory with Iraq funding bill] - [Germans outraged by "scent profiling" ahead of G8] - [AC Milan beat Liverpool 2-1 to win the Champions League ] and more of today's top stories!


By The Center for Public Integrity

Allegiance Rewarded:
Ethiopia reaps U.S. aid by enlisting in war on terror and hiring influential lobbyists


Press release

Meeting on the African Treaty on Freedom of Expression
(Ethiopia will be at the top of meeting's Agenda)

African freedom of expression advocacy organisations will organise a conference to plan for an African Treaty on Freedom of Expression in Accra on June 25 to 27, 2007, just days before the African Union heads of states Summit.

...The June meeting will involve most or all of NAFEO’s 20-plus members, representatives of other freedom of expression organisations, academics and legal experts. The African Union Commission and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of Expression of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights are expected to participate in the conference.

Issued by Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Accra, May 23, 2007
For more information, please contact
Tel : +233-21-242470
Fax : +233-21-221084
Email :


Ethiopia: Amnesty International Annual Report 2007

...Torture was reported by methods including electric shocks and beatings on the feet while tied upside down...Alemayehu Fantu, an engineer and supermarket owner in Addis Ababa, was reportedly tortured in October to make him admit to publishing or distributing the CUD calendar, and to name others. He was taken to court with visible injuries, which the judges did not investigate, but released on bail on November.

...Four prisoners of conscience were moved as punishment to the Central Prison (Karchele), which was in the process of demolition. CUD leaders Muluneh Eyuel and Amanuel Araya and journalists Eskinder Negga and Sissay Agena were kept for over two months in dark underground cells in solitary confinement.(See full Report)

Swedes 'were tortured' in Ethiopia

Three Swedish nationals detained in Ethiopia for several months and released last week were "tortured" and mistreated during their captivity, their lawyer said on Tuesday.

"They were imprisoned in isolation, in metal cages measuring one and a half square meters (16 square feet). They were handcuffed almost all the time, both their hands and feet," Björn Hurtig told Swedish public radio. He said the three slept with their handcuffs on.

"They were mistreated during interrogations and were physically and psychologically tortured," he said, providing no further details. The trio, two Swedish nationals and one permanent resident in Sweden whose identities were not disclosed, were arrested at the start of the year in connection with the conflict in Somalia.(More...)

Also see:
-Ethiopian Captives Say They Were Tortured

East Africa attracts hunters for oil and gas

a still largely under-explored region

PARIS: Oil companies, both western and Asian, are hunting in earnest for oil and gas in East Africa, a still largely under-explored region, as energy nationalism in Russia, Venezuela and the Middle East closes off opportunities in more proven areas.

"East Africa, for a frontier area, is experiencing one of the highest levels of investment in the world right now - but we're only seeing the beginning," said Chris Matchette-Downes, vice president of business development at Black Marlin Energy, an oil service company based in Dubai and specializing in the region. About $500 million is being spent on research but so far only about 479 wells have been drilled from Eritrea to Cape Town including Madagascar, compared with as many as 30,000 in northern and western Africa, he said.

Significant discoveries of oil could help some countries in the region reduce their dependence on aid and expensive imported oil and help wean their residents from chopping down trees for household fuel. Exploitation, however, could be difficult and require costly infrastructure development. Except for a rickety rail network, not rehabilitated since colonial times, most of the region lacks pipelines and ports to export oil.(more...)

African countries in tariff move

A group of African countries have agreed to adopt common external tariffs in an effort to boost trade and move towards a fully-fledged customs union.

Angola, Ethiopia and Uganda are among those currently sitting on the sidelines, citing concerns about the possible impact on their economies. Countries such as Kenya and Zimbabwe see tariff harmonisation as a crucial step towards establishing a full customs union next year.

"We must harden our resolve to desist from engaging in practices aimed at protecting our individual markets," said Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki.(More...)

Rights group says EU should sanction instead of engaging Eritrea

ASMARA (Reuters) - A press freedom group urged the European Union on Wednesday to adopt sanctions against Eritrea instead of engaging "one of Africa's most brutal dictators".

The European Commission's decision this month to embrace the isolationist Red Sea state in the search for peace deals to a range of conflicts in the Horn of Africa has sparked criticism from some members states and rights groups.

"Aside from reflecting a double standard, the EU's new policy towards Eritrea is disastrous for those who are exposed to the government's terror," Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said.(More...)

ABC News: Bush Authorizes New Covert Action Against Iran

Brian Ross and Richard Esposito Report

The CIA has received secret presidential approval to mount a covert "black" operation to destabilize the Iranian government, current and former officials in the intelligence community tell the Blotter on

The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the subject, say President Bush has signed a "nonlethal presidential finding" that puts into motion a CIA plan that reportedly includes a coordinated campaign of propaganda, disinformation and manipulation of Iran's currency and international financial transactions.

"I can't confirm or deny whether such a program exists or whether the president signed it, but it would be consistent with an overall American approach trying to find ways to put pressure on the regime," said Bruce Riedel, a recently retired CIA senior official who dealt with Iran and other countries in the region.(More...)

Also see:
-New Covert Action against Iran
-Ross Report About Covert Action In Iran Attracts Hundreds Of Comments

China Requiring Bloggers to Register

(BEIJING) — New rules by a Chinese government-backed Internet group maintain strict controls over the country's bloggers, requiring them to register with their real names and identification cards.

The guidelines from the Internet Society of China, a group made up of China's major Internet companies, contradict state media reports this week claiming that China was considering loosening registration requirements for bloggers to allow anonymous online journaling.

The society's new draft code of conduct seen on its Web site Wednesday says Web log service providers must still get their users' real names and contact information. Critics say the requirement violates a blogger's right to freedom of expression and puts them at risk of punishment or imprisonment if they post controversial opinions about politics, religion or other issues.(More...)

Litvinenko film to premiere at Cannes

A documentary about Alexander Litvinenko, the poisoned Russian ex-spy, will have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival this weekend, organisers said this morning. The last-minute announcement comes a day after British prosecutors sought the extradition of a former KGB agent for his murder.

Rebellion: The Litvinenko Case will screen at the prestigious festival on Saturday, a decision the film’s director, Andrei Nekrasov, said was made at least three weeks ago – well before Britain named Andrei Lugovoy as a suspect in Litvinenko’s murder and demanded his extradition from Russia.

Mr Nekrasov said it was the festival organisers’ idea to keep the film a secret until now. “I can’t say the reason was political pressure,” he said. “They do this sort of surprise screening sometimes.”(More...)

Today's Top International Stories

-Arrests Made In Kenyan Beheadings(Police Believe Shadowy Religious Sect Behind Executions Of 6 People)
-Zimbabwe slum evictions 'a crime'
-Dems, GOP claim victory with Iraq funding bill
-Germans outraged by "scent profiling" ahead of G8
-More Flee as Cease-Fire Holds at Lebanon Camp
-IAEA: Iran Continues to Defy U.N.
-Does Alcohol Slow Dementia?

-AC Milan exact Champions League revenge(AC Milan have beaten Liverpool 2-1 with two goals from Filippo Inzaghi to win the European Cup for the seventh time and avenge their defeat by Liverpool on penalties in the final two years ago)