A rights advocacy group says suppression of media freedom by Ethiopia's government is curtailing democratic space ahead of elections in May.

In a report released Thursday Human Rights Watch said six independent print publications were closed in 2014 after a lengthy campaign of intimidation that included documentaries on state-run television that alleged the publications were linked to terrorist groups.

The report says intimidation also included harassment and threats against staff, pressure on printers and distributors, regulatory delays, and eventually criminal charges against the editors. It says dozens of staff members went into exile, at least 22 journalists, bloggers, and publishers were criminally charged, and more than 30 journalists fled the country in fear of being arrested under repressive laws in the past year.