Ethiopia: Statement On the Baseless Accusations and Dangerous Defamation By State-Affiliated FBC Against Addis Standard Publication

JAKENN Publishing PLC, the publisher of Addis Standard publication, is alarmed by the repeated dissemination of unfounded allegations and dangerous defamation by the state-affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporate (FBC).

On December 19, 2021 the media published news on its website and official social media platforms that Addis Standard online publication is receiving money from the United States government in order to exert pressure on the government of Ethiopia. Without providing a shred of evidence on how Addis Standard is helping the United State government to put pressure on Ethiopia, FBC went on to claim that Addis Standard, a media outlet registered at the Ethiopian Media Authority, is paid by the National Endowment for Democracy to advance the national interests of the United States. The news has since been shared by several other media outlets and has reached hundreds of thousands of people.

Following the dissemination of this accusation, the newsroom members of Addis Standard are receiving alarming threats from anonymous individuals including death threats.

The state-affiliated FBC has been repeatedly engaged in publishing similar unsubstantiated news about Addis Standard publication over the past several months. In November last year the media accused Addis Standard of violating journalistic ethics and operating without a license despite the fact that JAKENN Publishing PLC is a legally registered company. In July this year, following the illegal brief suspension of Addis Standard publication by the Ethiopian Media Authority (EMA), FBC launched another attack claiming, without any substantiate fact, that Addis Standard violated the decisions made by the House of People’s Representatives (HoPR) by implementing the agenda of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).

Days later EMA clarified its position and reinstated Addis Standard’s online media registration certificate, assuring our editorial independence. However, on July 30,2021 FBC disseminated a documentary alleging in a non-existing conspiracy theory that Addis Standard was linked with a network of international intelligence agencies.

JAKENN Publishing PLC has written a letter to the FBC dated August 4, 2021 pursuant to article 50, sub-article 3 of the new media proclamation 1238/2021 requesting it to issue a correction on the documentary that was aired on its television network, shared on its social media platforms and viewed by hundreds of thousands of people.

It should be clear that Article 84 of the media proclamation stipulates that defamation committed through media shall result in civil liability.

JAKENN Publishing PLC has also sent a copy of the aforementioned letter to the EMA hoping it would take corrective measures against the many forms of harassment our reporters faced online and in the field after the airing of the documentary. Unfortunately, our attempts were to no avail and FBC continues to defame Addis Standard, threatening the security of its staff by disseminating reckless and unfounded information to the public and the law enforcement amid the state of emergency.

The latest attack followed shortly after JAKENN published its plans to unveil a tri-lingual website in English, Amharic and Afaan Oromoo languages. The latest attack peaked after a coordinated campaign on social media including Twitter and Facebook from anonymous accounts.

JAKENN Publishing PLC rejects these baseless allegations and firmly stands against such coordinated campaign of defamation aimed at intimidating and harassing the newsroom members of Addis Standard. Our newsroom remains committed to continue playing its vital role as an independent media by upholding journalistic ethics and media laws.

To this end, we urge the Ethiopian Media Authority to help our efforts to restrain such acts of reckless endangerment of the safety and security of our staff members by the FBC and protect Ethiopia’s nascent free press . We also call up on the CPJ, RSF, Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Editors Guild of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Mass Media Professionals Association and other press freedom advocates to stand with Addis Standard against these coordinated defamation campaigns by state-affiliated media.

JAKENN Publishing PLC, the publisher of Addis Standard publication.

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