Rights group Amnesty International has issued a global appeal for the release from prison of an award-winning journalist in Ethiopia.

Amnesty on Wednesday said it was trying to raise awareness of the case of Eskinder Nega as part of a campaign called "Write for Rights."

Eskinder, in prison since 2011, is serving an 18-year sentence on terrorism charges.

Amnesty says the journalist was a "thorn in the side of the Ethiopian authorities" for making speeches and writing articles critical of the government.

Eskinder's wife, Serkalem Fasil, who was arrested with him but later released, and who now lives in the US, said her husband was arrested for being a journalist and for repeatedly criticising the government.

Ethiopian government spokesman, Shimelis Kemal, said Eskinder was not convicted for his criticism of the government but because he was running a clandestine 'terrorist' organisation.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia has the second highest number of journalists imprisoned in Africa and is the eighth biggest jailer of journalists in the world.

Source: Agencies