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Ethiopian journalist accredited to AP is released on bail

He is accused of “serving the purposes” of what the government has classified as a terrorist group by interviewing its officials, according to reports by Ethiopian state media.

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Ethiopian journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro, who is accredited to The Associated Press and has been imprisoned for four months without charges, has been released on bail.

Kiyaro, a 30-year-old video journalist, was freed on bail Friday after the country's Supreme Court upheld the ruling to grant him bail, rejecting a police effort to block his release.

Prosecutors say they are continuing investigations to determine whether or not to press charges against Kiyaro.

His bail was set at 60,000 Ethiopian birr, about $1,170, according to his lawyer.

Kiyaro was detained on Nov. 28 in Addis Ababa under the country’s war-related state of emergency powers.

Kiyaro is accused of “serving the purposes” of what the government has classified as a terrorist group by interviewing its officials, according to reports by Ethiopian state media, which cited federal police. Local journalist Thomas Engida was arrested at the same time and faces similar charges. Ethiopia’s Supreme Court also ruled that Engida should be released on bail.

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If the journalists are found guilty of violating Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism law or the state of emergency law, they could face sentences of seven to 15 years behind bars, federal police inspector Tesfaye Olani has told state media.

Despite the granting of bail after four months of police investigation and detention, it still remains uncertain whether prosecutors will proceed to press charges against Kiyaro. The state of emergency was lifted in February as the government cited changing conditions in the deadly conflict between Ethiopian forces and those of the northern Tigray region.

“We are relieved that journalist Amir Aman Kiyaro has been released on bail and reunited with his family," Julie Pace, executive editor of the AP, said. "At the same time, we are dismayed that he is still being investigated. We urge the Ethiopian authorities in the strongest terms to drop their baseless investigation against Amir, an independent journalist targeted because of his work.”

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