According to their attorneys, the detainees will face charges related to accepting assistance from a foreign NGO and “inciting violence through social media.”
The hearing was closed to the public, despite many attempts by diplomats and others to attend. According to friends of the Global Voices community who were on the scene, onlookers outside the court building were forbidden from speaking to the detainees. Supporters who waited outside the court waved their hands to the detainees and they smiled back. They could not wave their hands in response, as they were handcuffed.
The scene was highly emotional: friends and families were crying, and Natnael looked very down. He was seen crying while he was escorted in and out of the court. People fear that they might have been exposed to torture but with the exception of Natnael, the group looked strong and showed high spirits.
Learn more about this story:
Why Blogging is a Threat to the Ethiopian Government May 10, 2014
Netizen Report: Ethiopia Cracks Down on Free Expression, April 30, 2014
Six Members of Blogging Collective Arrested in Ethiopia, April 25, 2014