The United States said Saturday it was "deeply concerned" by the conviction and sentencing of Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, who was jailed for 18 years on "terrorism" charges.
"The United States remains deeply concerned about the trial, conviction, and sentencing of Ethiopian journalist Eskinder Nega, as well as seven political opposition figures, under the country's Anti-Terrorism Proclamation," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
She said that the Ethiopian government had used the Anti-Terrorism Proclamation to jail journalists and opposition party members for peacefully exercising their freedoms of expression and association.
"This practice raises serious concerns about the extent to which Ethiopians can rely upon their constitutionally guaranteed rights to afford the protection that is a fundamental element of a democratic society," the statement said.
"We reiterate our call for the Government of Ethiopia to stop stifling freedom of expression and we urge the release of those who have been imprisoned for exercising their human rights and fundamental freedoms," Nuland pointed out.