Twitter activists freed from jail, but African governments are watching you; it’s ‘war’ in Ethiopia
Users of social media in Africa are likely to be young, so those arrested for “digital crimes” are often barely out of their teens.
THREE sisters jailed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since February for campaigning on Twitter for the release of their imprisoned brother were released on Friday, but it highlights the harsh measures that governments are increasingly deploying to control freedom of expression in the digital space – even for ordinary users of social media.
Issa al-Suwaidi was convicted for links to al-Islah, an Islamist group accused of conspiring to overthrow the government, and is now serving a 10-year sentence, according to Bloomberg.
The UAE says al-Islah is a franchise of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, which has similarly been proscribed as a terrorist organisation in Egypt.
A statement from Amnesty International says it is not yet known what pressure the al-Suwaidi sisters – Asma, Mariam and Alyaziyah – were under while in detention; if they were charged with any offence, or it their release carries any conditions.
In the year running from May 2013 to May 2014, more people have been detained or prosecuted for their digital activities than ever before, says the latest report on Internet freedom by Freedom House.
In those 12 months, arrests for online communications were documented in 38 of the 65 countries studied in Freedom on the Net 2014, with social-media users identified as one of the main targets of government repression.
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