• Sweden edition
 

Swedes convicted of terror crimes in Ethiopia

Published: 21 Dec 2011 09:09 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Dec 2011 10:43 GMT+01:00

In addition to being found guilty of supporting a terrorist group, the two Swedes were also convicted of visa violations for entering the country illegally, with the

prosecution calling for a maximum sentence of 18 years and six months in prison.

"Guilty as charged, period, unanimous vote. They have shown that they are esteemed journalists, but we cannot conclude that someone with a good reputation doesn't engage in criminal acts," Judge Shemsu Sirgaga told the court.

According to the court, the Swedes "used their profession as a cover to act on behalf of the terrorists".

Both the freelancers were also found guilty of entering Ethiopia illegally.

"They have not been able to prove that they did not support terrorism," Shemsu said, speaking in Ethiopia's Amharic language.

Both reporters appeared expressionless at the verdict, according to an AFP reporter in the court, but it was not clear whether they understood the judge since they had no translator.

Later on Wednesday morning, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt commented on the ruling via Twitter.

"Sweden expresses grave concern over hard sentence against Swedish journalists in Ethiopia. We will continue to work to set them free," wrote Bildt.

Reporter Schibbye and photographer Persson -- both freelancers -- were arrested in Ethiopia's Ogaden region on July 1st after entering the country from Somalia.

They were arrested after a gun battle erupted between Ethiopian troops and ONLF fighters, and are charged with supporting a terrorist group and entering the country illegally.

Prosecution lawyers called for a sentence of 13 years for the terrorism charges, and a further five years and six months for entering Ethiopia without permission.

The court is expected to announce its sentencing decision on December 27th, according to reports in the Swedish media.

Charges of participating in terrorism were dropped last month due to a lack of evidence.

Speaking with the TT news agency, the journalists' Swedish lawyer, Thomas Olsson, said he hoped the court would decide to deport rather than imprison Schibbye and Persson.

“The hope is that they will nullify the charge related to terror crimes and be satisfied with deporting Martin and Johan because they entered the country illegally,” the said.

“Of course, it depends somewhat on how the court views their reason for entering the country. There are sentencing guidelines calling for up to ten years in prison if the purpose was subversive, that is to say, if one had the intention of damaging the Ethiopian state. But since no such reason has been established, the hope is that they will settle on deporting them.”

The journalists both testified they were in Ethiopia to report on the activities of the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil in the Ogaden.

They said they met ONLF chiefs in London and Nairobi before meeting with about 20 members of the group in Ethiopia, about 40 kilometres from the Somali border.

Ulrika Knutson, chair of Sweden's National Press Club (Publicistklubben – PK), condemned the guilty verdict as a “human, policital, and journalistic catastrophe”.

“We still don't know how long the penalty will be. When we do know, the Swedish government must use all its powers to see that Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson come home as quickly as possible,” she told Journalisten.se, the newspaper of the Swedish journalists' union.

Jesper Bengtsson, chair of the Swedish branch of Reporters without Borders, also called on the Swedish government to take a more active role in the case of the Swedish journalists, calling their conviction a “blow against press freedom”.

“This is a major blow against quiet diplomacy as well,” he told the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) daily.

“I'm assuming that the lack of sharply-worded statements that has existed in the past will be corrected now.”

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

09:43 December 21, 2011 by truthworthy
This is all due to fact that Sweden has shown so much weakness in the face of dictatorship that denies freedom of the press and human rights.
10:06 December 21, 2011 by Frobobbles
truthworthy: one of those deniers is the marxist-leninist Martin Schibbye. Johan Hakelius wrote about this in the magazine Affärsvärlden.
11:45 December 21, 2011 by star10
The EU is such an important donnor that it can actually starve the Ethiopian repressive regime to its death. What Sweden should do is send a clear signal that the Ethiopian tyrant will get zero aid money from EU if it doesn't release the journalists. That I am sure will definetely work. Surprising, there hasn't been much pressure from the EU. The Ethioian tyrant is not like the Eritrean one. Eritrea is not so dependent on foreign aid (even if it is so poor). But EU Aid is blood for the Ethiopian tyrant.
12:21 December 21, 2011 by abaraham
star10 Go hell with your aid!! do you think you can buy us by your aid. you can allow anybody to get in to your fathers pig or potatis farm but not to africa.

why dont you try to go like them. you will find your self in hot water.

I am sorry for those young ''jornalists'' hope they will get mercy for the gov and back to thier family.
13:30 December 21, 2011 by truthworthy
abaraham, do you seriously think Ethiopia could survive without the £1.8 billion aid from the west?

Wake up man. We all know how is life in Ethiopia, i have been to Addis Ababa. I am sure if the EU says 24 hours to release the journalists. Meles will do it without hesitation because he knows what is at stake.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/ethiopia/8681975/Britain-and-EU-increase-aid-to-Ethiopia-while-ignoring-human-rights-warnings.html
19:04 December 21, 2011 by Munir Ahmed
It's one thing to interview terrorists, but it's another to knowingly travel with them to document a civilian killing mission...If this was in Europe, and not Black Africa, there would've been outrage.

Ethnic Somali Ogaden (ONLF) terrorists massacres:

BBC NEWS: 74 Chinese & Ethiopian oil workers machine-gunned asleep in bed

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6588055.stm

REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped

http://af.reuters.com/article/ethiopiaNews/idAFLDE74D0CU20110514
23:07 December 21, 2011 by ye_hiwot
@Star10, Don't you think that the amount of money that fled to European banks in a year is by far greater than the so-called EU aid 2 billion? This amount of aid money is not accounted for in any way, as larger portion of it remains in the capitols of Europe and America. As Graham Hancock has written in his book 'Lords of Poverty' the rest of money goes to create job for donor countries. What next then? the rest end up teaching corruption and tyranny. See? Aid is not help! If that tiny country of yours, Eritrea, is able to survive with out aid, what is the miracle to believe that Ethiopia will not survive with out it considering its 20x as large working force as Er? It seems irony. After all, it has a GDP of $86.12 billion (2010 est.) (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/et.html). Make sense and think sometimes out of politics. For the journalists, Sweden is unable to secure the freedom of Dawit Isaac for the last 11 years. It doesn't work! only civility can settle the issue. Don't mess with the Zohan!
01:31 December 22, 2011 by be reasonable
@ye_hiwot,God bless you!Tell them the facts!...
10:07 January 8, 2012 by BBKING
@Trustworthy I am an Ethiopian. I think you suffer from lack of information. You are stuck with an age-old state of mind that believes that Africa is always about poverty. Read more please. The situation is changing forever there.

I think you are from Sweden and I have a feeling that we will overtake in your lifetime. Who knows you would be the ones then who will need our assistance. Wait and see son.
Today's headlines
Swedish expert slams Norway terror alert
Terrorism expert Ranstorp and a policeman in Norway. Photos: TT

Swedish expert slams Norway terror alert

A Swedish terrorism expert has come forward criticizing the way Norway has handled its recent terror threat, saying the day the threat began was a "total problem in intelligence". READ  

Swedish nurse reported for patient 'death wave'

Swedish nurse reported for patient 'death wave'

A nurse in southern Sweden has been reported for abuse at a senior care centre after she allegedly waved to a colleague with the hand of a recently-dead resident. READ  

Pandas Plopp and Polly born in Swedish zoo
Plopp and Polly, the offspring of Pandora the panda. Photo: Kolmården

Pandas Plopp and Polly born in Swedish zoo

A pair of red panda cubs have been born in central Sweden, a wildlife park announced on Monday. READ  

Green Party ranked 'most gay friendly' in Sweden

Green Party ranked 'most gay friendly' in Sweden

The Green Party's views are 88.6 percent "LGBT-friendly", a Swedish LGBT rights group claimed on Monday, making the Greens the most gay-friendly of all Sweden's parliamentary parties. READ  

Man held on suspicion of murdering wife
Police on the scene. Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Man held on suspicion of murdering wife

Updated: Police arrested a man in Copenhagen on the suspicion of killing his wife, whose body was found at the couple's home in southern Sweden during the weekend. READ  

Arlanda, Stockholm
Lightning bolt grounds flight to New York

Lightning bolt grounds flight to New York

Swedes bound for New York learned on Monday morning that their plane had been cancelled after it was hit by lightning during Sunday's thunderstorm. READ  

Elderly Swedish man stripped of his 35 cats

Elderly Swedish man stripped of his 35 cats

The County Administrative Board of Skåne has decided to confiscate the 35 cats of an 81-year-old man who was forbidden from having more than nine of the furry felines. READ  

Wild weather set to strike Sweden anew
Photo: TT

Wild weather set to strike Sweden anew

With Sunday's thunderstorm reported as the worst of the year so far, Sweden is bracing for round two on Monday as meteorologists predict more of the same. READ  

Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

Swedish youth suicides hit 25-year high

Last year 1,600 people in Sweden took their own lives - and for Swedes aged 15 to 24, the numbers haven't been so high since 1989. READ  

Floods replace Swedish heatwave
The Viking Lines ferry pictured was ripped away from the dock as a result of the storm. Per Gustavsson / TT

Floods replace Swedish heatwave

The Swedish summer was washed away on Sunday as thunderstorms caused chaos in Stockholm, including torrents of water flooding down stairways at metro stations. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching, June 26th - 28th. Get inside Stockholm's hottest nightclubs
Gallery
Top ten Swedish taboos
Society
Seven-year-old Swede cycles to Berlin
Politics
'Gaza conflict needs help, not empty rhetoric'
Society
Swedes voted 'most beautiful' in the Nordics
Blog updates

27 July

Approaching Stockholm (Around Sweden in a kayak) »

"I woke up in the comfort of my own little cabin on Eva and Rolf’s boat, it was 7:30am and I was feeling a bit groggy after a couple of beers with all the lovely locals the night before. The previous day had really taken its toll on my body and I was very stiff and..." READ »

 

24 July

Sharing our Pride: Celebrating Love & the LGBT Community! (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"It’s mid- July in Stockholm, and with much of the city on vacation, things can seem a little quiet – the streets, the bus, and the grocery store. One thing that has not paused for a summer break, though, is preparation for Stockholm’s Pride Festival, which will take place from July 28 to August 2...." READ »

 
 
 
Business & Money
Sweden demands EU clarity on Bitcoin tax
National
Swedish organic sales enjoy 'amazing' growth
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT
Society
What's On in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching July 23
National
Swedish cops elect not to shoot 'angry elks'
Business & Money
New alcohol retail rules threaten micro-breweries
Gallery
People-watching Båstad
Business & Money
Sweden falls to third in global innovation index
Society
Swedish ornithologists keep webcam watch
Photo: Andreas Nordström/Image Bank Sweden
Gallery
Top ten Swedish beach hot spots
Tech
Swedish Wiki vet sets new content record
Photo: Fastighetsbyrån
Lifestyle
In Pictures: The Local's Property of the Week
Photo: Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching July 15-16
Photo: Ola Ericson/Image Bank Sweden
Society
What's On in Sweden
Photo: Lisa Mikulski
National
Hope springs eternal for expat pet shop owner
Gallery
Princess Estelle steals limelight at mum's birthday
National
Swedes risk infants' lives by covering up prams
National
Swede runs for office just using Bitcoin funds
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Your finances in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing... Housing in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

729
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se