By William Davison
Addis Ababa (Bloomberg) – Ethiopian authorities charged a minister’s wife with terrorism for using money from the Saudi Arabian Embassy to pay for Islamic protests against the government, defense lawyer Temam Ababulgu said.
Habiba Mohammed, wife of Civil Service Minister Junedin Sado, was among 29 people charged with terrorism offenses in an Ethiopian court yesterday, Temam said yesterday in an interview outside the court in the capital, Addis Ababa.
Nine members of a 17-person committee formed to dispute the government’s control of the Islamic council, which has led the demonstrations, were also among the 29 charged under a 2009 terrorism law the U.S. and United Nations have criticized as too broad. Habiba was charged with belonging to and aiding a terrorist organization, Temam said.
Muslims in Ethiopia, Africa’s second-most populous nation, have been holding protests at mosques for more than a year against government control of an Islamic council, some of which turned violent. The government accuses the group of being led by extremists who want to convert the secular nation into an Islamic state.
A call today to the Saudi Embassy in Addis Ababa was not answered. State Minister of Communications Shimeles Kemal did not immediately answer two calls to his office today.
The defendants will answer the charges at the next hearing, scheduled for Nov. 22, Temam said.