Ahead of Obama's visit, imprisoned Ethiopian journalists freed

ADDIS ABABA -- Ethiopian journalists Edom Kassaye and Zelalem Kibret were released from prison just before President Obama's visit here, after charges of inciting terrorism and violence were mysteriously dropped.

Kassaye says she was abused in prison. "Slapped, beaten," he said.

The two wrote for a blog critical of Ethiopia's one-party government. Four of their colleagues remain in jail.

Kassaye was asked if she has written anything, as she was before, since her release. "I'm afraid," he said.

Ethiopia cooperates with the U.S. in counterterrorism efforts in the Horn of Africa, its soldiers have fought al Qaeda affiliate al Shabab in Somalia since 2006.

But according to one journalism advocacy group, Ethiopia is the fourth most censored country in the world.

On Monday, the president and prime minister Hailemariam Desalegn clashed over freedom of the press.

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Ethiopian Journalists Edom Kassaye and Zelalem Kibret were both released from prison just prior to President Obama's arrival in the country.

CBS News

"When all voices are being heard, when people know that they're included in the political process, that makes a country stronger and more successful and more innovative," said President Obama.

"Journalism has to be respected, when it doesn't, you know, pass the line that working with violent terrorist groups is not allowed even in the United States," said Hailemariam.

Kibret said he is hopeful that change will come. "There is silence here in Ethiopia. It's not peace. I can't say it's peace.

Silence these journalists are struggling to break.