Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:31 - Updated Sat, 20 Mar 2010 10:31
US condemns Ethiopia for VOA jamming
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Washington – The United States condemned Ethiopia's blocking of Voice of America broadcasts, calling the country's accusations of the US radio service "baseless and inflammatory."
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi earlier admitted to jamming the US government-funded VOA broadcasts in Amharic, saying he was prepared to censor the broadcasts because of the service's "destabilizing propaganda."
He said Ethiopian authorities had been testing jamming equipment although there had been no formal decision to block the US radio station.
But Washington said Addis Ababa was already jamming VOA transmissions in Amharic, Ethiopia's main language. The United States "opposes" the move, US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said in a statement.
The Ethiopian leader also compared VOA to Radio Mille Collines of Rwanda, which incited the population to exterminate minority Tutsis during the Rwandan genocide.
Duguid condemned the comparison to the infamous Rwandan station.
"Comparing a respected and professional news service to a group that called for genocide in Rwanda is a baseless and inflammatory accusation that seeks only to deflect attention away from the core issue," he said on Friday.
"The prime minister may disagree with news carried in Voice of America's Amharic service broadcasts; however, a decision to jam VOA broadcasts contradicts the government of Ethiopia's frequent public commitments to freedom of the press."
He noted that the Ethiopian Constitutions upholds people's right to freedom of expression "without any interference" and that freedom of the press includes "prohibition of any form of censorship."