The 38 people freed - including opposition party officials, a human rights activist and four journalists - had been detained since November 2005, following demonstrations against election results.
Most were sentenced to life imprisonment and deprivation of political rights, while others got prison terms of up to 15 years. Four days later, the group received a presidential pardon with their political rights restored.
The pardon seems to have been triggered by a letter the group submitted, acknowledging "mistakes committed both individually and collectively" in relation to the 2005 elections. Security forces killed 187 people during the demonstrations. Six police officers were killed by demonstrators.
There is hope that this important measure of political reconciliation will be a step towards a wider recognition of human rights in the country.
Amnesty International is renewing its appeal for the release of two more prisoners of conscience accused of the same offences. The trial of Daniel Bekele and Netsanet Demissie continues this week after the pair had opted to submit a defence, unlike the 38 sentenced.
Those released include Coalition of Unity and Democracy (CUD) leaders Hailu Shawel, Ms Birtukan Mideksa, Dr Berhanu Negga and Professor Yakob Hailemariam; Professor Mesfin Woldemariam, founder of the Ethiopian Human Rights Council; and journalist Andualem Ayele.