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Oct 10, 2014 5:59 AM

Ethiopia says US embassy intruders must be charged

The Associated Press

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) Ethiopia's government said it hopes U.S. authorities will prosecute protesters who tried to take down the national flag on the grounds of its embassy in Washington.

A security attache at the embassy, who has since returned home, fired a gun during the Sept. 29 incident, which has renewed tensions between Ethiopia's government and dissident groups.

Dina Mufti, a spokesman for Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Ethiopian state television late Thursday that the protesters have ties with Eritrea and the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab.

He said the U.S. government is expected to protect the integrity of the embassy and to charge the "intruders," who chanted anti-government slogans as they tried to take down the flag of Ethiopia.

But on Oct. 2, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman in Washington indicated that authorities were instead looking to investigate the shooting incident, which reportedly caused no injuries.

"In this case, we requested a waiver of (diplomatic) immunity to permit prosecution of the individual involved in that incident. The request was declined and the individual involved has now left the country," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on Oct. 2.

William Miller, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia, said Friday that the office has "no comment on the statements or reports" and that "no other charges have been filed in the incident."

Critics of Ethiopia's government say it is intolerant of political dissent. Human Rights Watch says Ethiopia's government has "clamped down heavily" on protests, arbitrarily detaining and beating protesters.

Yilikal Getnet, head the opposition Blue Party, said Ethiopia's government routinely characterizes protesters as criminals, adding that opposition groups back home have been similarly treated.


Associated Press Writer Jessica Gresko in Washington contributed to this report.


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