The Ethiopian federal court Friday handed down a seven-year prison term to a UN staff who was found guilty of terrorism charges.
Abdurahman Sheikh Hassan, identified as a man of double Ethiopian and Somali nationality was accused of involvement with a rebel group, which Ethiopia categorizes as a terrorist organization.
Sheikh Hassan was said to have engaged in subversive activities with the National Liberation Front (ONLF),which is demanding the total independence of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, known as a settlement for a Somali ethnic group bordering neighbouring Somalia.
According to the court, Hassan had used his UN staff membership as a cover to deceive the Ethiopian authorities while helping the ONLF in their campaign to destabilize the region.
Judge Mulugeta Kidane said in his verdict that since the accused had failed to advance plausible reasons to establish his innocence of the charges preferred against him, he (judge) had no option but to find him guilty and sentenced him to seven years in jail for his part in maintaining a terrorist organization.
He said Hassan was guilty of collaborating with a man called Sherif Badio, who was sentenced to life in prison in absentia after the same charges of terrorism were preferred against him.
Since Ethiopia introduced a terrorism law a year ago, two Swedish journalists have been sentenced to an 11 year jail term each while the case on terrorism charges of another 23 people and one Kenyan is languishing in an Ethiopian court.
Meanwhile, international human rights organizations and media rights concerns have accused Ethiopia of using its terrorism laws to silence political critics and the private media.