Ethiopia charges Swedish journalists with terrorism

ADDIS ABABA, Sep 7 – Ethiopia charged two Swedish journalists with terrorism on Wednesday, the first formal charges levelled against them since their July 1 arrest near Ethiopia’s border with Somalia.

“The two journalists are accused of being engaged in a terrorist activity in violation of the new anti-terrorism statute of Ethiopia,” said Ethiopian government spokesman Shimeles Kemal.

Photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, both freelancers, have been held in jail since they were arrested with Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels, who are opposed to the Ethiopian government.

Fighting broke out between the rebels and Ethiopian troops, killing 15 and injuring six, including the journalists, who suffered gunshot wounds.

Sweden said they were worried about the charges against the pair.

“The two journalists were on spot on a journalistic mission and we have not had reason to question their claim,” Swedish foreign ministry spokesperson Anders Jorle told AFP by telephone from Stockholm.

“It is worrying us that the case has been brought to a charge against the journalists.”

The Swedes are also accused of abetting a terrorist group and entering the country illegally from Somalia without permission, Shimeles said.

“They are accused of abetting and rendering professional assistance to terrorists,” he said.

“The third count relates to their entering into a sovereign state without a valid visa or lawful permission.”

The Swedes who appeared in court on Tuesday in Addis Ababa with two Ethiopians accused of being members of the ONLF, who were also charged with terrorist offences.

During the hearing, the public prosecutor showed the court video footage he said showed the Swedes receiving weapons training from ONLF gunmen.

The maximum sentence for commissioning or planning terrorist activities under Ethiopian law is life in prison.

International press freedom watchdogs have condemned the arrests of the journalists.

Since its formation in 1984, the ONLF has been fighting for the independence of the remote southeastern Ogaden, which is populated mainly by ethnic Somalis and has been marginalised by the Addis Ababa regime.

Ethiopia last month arrested 31 people, including prominent opposition party members, on terrorism-related charges and being members of the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), another rebel group battling the government.



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  • Ahmed_abdi81

    What? A journalist yet terrorist,how can this possible.

    • iu eae

      It is possible because other Ethiopian journalists are accused of the same. The case is known by international community. They are not responding and the day has come where their nation suffers of the same. Not only the Swedish, but even BBC journalists are reporting news about the  country with some cover. While the international community is silent, the oppressive Ethiopian government enjoys the oppression of the nation.

      It is so sad, but it is true.

      • Chamulb

        That is how meles play games. But as long as he serve for US as a pupet no thing will happen, unless the the poeple of ethiopia open thier mind.

        • Ras Amhara

          Hey, we already has open our mind. Are u think for us, or u r the more intelligent than 80 million ppl? it might be!!!!  But think again, the issue is about criminals, don’t care about their colour or citizenship. They r charged and may or may not be convicted. We prefer Meles than BBC or Sweden.

      • Ras Amhara

        You moron. Ethiopia is a soverein country okay. It is a crime and they must be punished. What would have been said, if the criminals were a Pakistani citizens?? Don’t consider us like other poor countries which cares only for money and let their sovereignty and right as exchange . We don’t have a European /USA democracy, what we need right now is FOOD and WATER. Democracy will come next. Why BBC prefers reporting silly faults only than reporting some progressions and make a documentary like the 10the huge dam’s potential advantages for the society and Sudan??? All White journalists are working days n night just to impose their interest, not for the sack of the poor people. they rather damage their images. 
        No BBC nor the Swedese journalist are working for the people, whatever bad/or good he is, He is MELES who is working for the ppl. Ethiopia is just like a flame – don’t touch it, or—will see it!!!   

  • FEV1

    only pm meles zenawi of ethiopia can get away with saying such a harebrained scheme. He’s a lapdog of his masters. He’ll get a slap on the wrist and asked to never repeat such a sensitive term in vain.

  • Abebe1

    I’m disgusted by the decision of the government of bandits. They were doing the same thing when they were fighting against derg regime. This guys are not terrorists, but journalists. But It is a good opportunity for Ethiopian people so that other countries know what is going on in Ethiopia. We are suffering by this bandits. Please help us.