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SWEDES JAILED IN ETHIOPIA
Ethiopia pardons jailed Swedish journalists

Ethiopia pardons jailed Swedish journalists

Published: 10 Sep 2012 16:18 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Sep 2012 19:13 GMT+02:00

The Ethiopian authorities have released two Swedish journalists detained for the past 14 months for "supporting terrorism", the Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman said Monday.

The pardon was approved by the late prime minister Meles Zenawi before his death last month and comes days after Sweden's foreign minister attended his funeral in Addis Ababa.

"Yes they are already released," said Dina Mufti, a spokesman for the Ethiopian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to AFP on Monday afternoon.

He was unable to elaborate on their current whereabouts, however.

Justice Minister Berhan Hailu said the two journalists were expected to fly out of Ethiopia within a day.

"The decision was made on the 12th of July," when Meles was still alive, he told reporters. "According to the constitution, they have to leave the country within 24 hours."

The two jailed Swedes, reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson, were jailed for "supporting terrorism" on July 1st, 2011 together with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) after illegally entering from Somalia.

Each was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Ethiopia’s justice minister Hailu, confirmed that Swedes were among over 1,950 prisoners who had been pardoned, a group set to be released in a ceremony on Tuesday, wrote the Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

The minister added in a statement that the Swedes had “shown true regret for their crimes and behaved well in prison” according to DN.

At the weekend, Sveriges Television (SVT) reported that Ethiopia traditionally pardons prisoners in connection with the Ethiopian new year, which this year falls on Tuesday, September 11th.

Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt was one of the few Western ministers who attended the funeral in Addis Ababa of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on September 2nd.

His presence at the funeral fuelled speculation that the Ethiopian authorities, under intense international pressure over the detention of the Swedish journalists, could take advantage of the New Year pardons to free them.

Schibbye's mother expressed her relief at the news of her son's release.

"Right now I'm just very, very happy, and oh how we've waited for this day," Karin Schibbye told Swedish news agency TT.

The pardon sparked no immediate reaction from the government but the Swedish Union of Journalists hailed the decision to release the pair.

"I am so very glad that Martin (Schibbye) and Johan (Persson) have been freed after 14 months in an Ethiopian prison. I hope they can be reunited with their families as soon as possible," union chief Jonas Nordling said in a statement.

"We hope they will be home on Swedish ground soon," Lotta Schuellerqvist, of the Swedish branch of French-based watchdog Reporters Without Borders, said in the same statement.

The case had drawn heavy criticism from rights groups. The journalists were convicted under Ethiopia's anti-terror law, which critics have called vague and indiscriminate.

The freelance journalists were in the remote southeastern region of Ogaden, populated mainly by ethnic Somalis, to investigate the activities of a company affiliated with the Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum.

Press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists has said Ethiopia has one of the most restricted media in the world, with 79 journalists forced into exile since 2001.

It was not immediately clear whether Ethiopian journalists who were also detained under the anti-terror law would be released as part of the wave of presidential pardons, which officials expect to affect around 2,000 people.

"Despite this development, other journalists remain in prison and we hope that Ethiopia will release them as soon as possible," IPI Deputy Director Anthony Mills said in a statement.

AFP/The Local/og

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Your comments about this article

18:36 September 10, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
Resume of Somali-Ogaden terrorists the leftist Swedish reporters championed as freedom fighters:

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
18:36 September 10, 2012 by h2m
welcome back home. a piece of advise for journalist trust no one in Afrika betrayal is common.
18:39 September 10, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

When received in Sweden, they will be received like heroes. Zlatan will vanish for some weeks. Thanks God.

Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson, will relax, take some time, not too much and then, they will go to Syria to teach the fighters for freedom how to penetrate into another country without any permit at all.

Mr. Bildt will deliver the "welcome home" speech and everything will be back to normality. We shall see what we shall see.

P.S. I am glad they were pardoned. It must be awful to be in a jail of any African country or in one in the United States. Just ask Bradley Manning. He will not be pardoned in many July 4s to come.
18:45 September 10, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
H2M (#2),

Africa is spelt with a "C" not "K"
19:52 September 10, 2012 by intrepidfox
They broke the law and should have served their time.
19:52 September 10, 2012 by themoron
# 4

themoron says:

Who cares how Africa, Afrika, Affffrikkka, is spelled. This is neither a grammar nor an orthography school. Your # 1 is certainly not a good example of sintax, but WHO CARES. We care about the contents..

By the way, you should not write "Africa is "spelt" with a "C" not a "K".It should be better that you write "spelled". Everybody will understand this.

Participle: spelt; spelled
21:23 September 10, 2012 by prince T
Thank God that they are going to be released. I agree that they should not be welcomed as heroes, because they are not
22:51 September 10, 2012 by truthworthy
Sweden has shown unbelievable level of weakness in the face of brutal dictatorship. Now it is Sweden and these brave journalists that look silly and cowards and that Ethiopian dictatorship looks strong and winners.

Anyway, glad you guys are free. Welcome home.
00:11 September 11, 2012 by jostein
Ethiopian justice: Breach the Ethiopian border, sponsor combat against the armed forces of ethiopia, cause 12+ peoples deaths and get punished with one year in jail. Pathetic.
03:30 September 11, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
#6 "themoron,"

Your name is very fitting.
06:27 September 11, 2012 by prince T
@ munir. you were pointing out somoene else spelling mistake, when you cannot if even spell SPELLED yourself. is that not ironic. why dont you do the honorable thing by admiting your mistake.
07:48 September 11, 2012 by thelionking
Great news!!

Maybe now we can get back to the forgotten Swede - Isaak STILL in Eritrea prison. 2001 to present is a very long time :(

God help him. Amen
08:23 September 11, 2012 by jostein
@thelionking

Yea, right, and when i go on vacation to New Zeeland i become maori.
08:27 September 11, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

Pardons granted to more than 1950 prisoners for the New Year (Sep 10, 2012)

The Ministry of Justice Pardon Board announced Monday (September 10) that over 1950 prisoners, including two Swedish journalists, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia for more than a year, have been pardoned and will be freed at an upcoming mass amnesty ceremony. The two Swedes were serving 11-year sentences for illegally crossing the Ethiopian boarder and supporting the terrorist activities of the ONLF. The decision to pardon the two was approved while the late Prime Minster Meles Zenawi was still in office as part of the regular grant of pardons given at the New Year. Ethiopia's Pardon and Amnesty law allows prison inmates to be granted a pardon when they have shown sincere regret for the crimes for which they were jailed and demonstrated good behavior in the correction facility. If the plea for pardon is accepted and approved by the President, pardon is granted.

http://www.mfa.gov.et/news/more.php?newsid=1168

As usual, It is speculated that the presence of Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Carl Bildt at the funeral ceremony held for the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi on 2 September might have created a good opportunity leading to their pardon grant. Yes, but of course. Mighty Bildt is the one to be grateful for the release of the Swedes.

# 10 muni

However, as stated in the website of the Ethiopian Mninstry for Foreign Affairs, the grant was already an approved before Zenawi passed away.

"The decision to pardon the two Swedes was approved while the late Prime Minster Meles Zenawi was still in office as part of the regular grant of pardons given at the New Year", according to Ethiopia's Ministry of Justice.

Therefore, Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, don't owe Bildt anything.

Good thay they were released and that they are back in their country. But, they should be very careful about their next tasks.

@Munir # 10

If my nickname, not "name" is very fitting, your understanding is not. A name is a name and a nickname is a nickname. Your name means nothing and your nickname is a disgrace. "Munir", Good Lord!
09:12 September 11, 2012 by thelionking
Spelling ******Zealand @jostien

News Flash - Maoris are exactly like the native Americans of the Americas, but guess what NOT all Americans are native Americans (****SHOCKER****) just like - NOT all people from New Zealand are maoris!!!!

Take John Key for example. DO you know him?

Like you and me he is no Maori neither....his parentage is European ;) ;)

Oh dear, did you think citizenship is given for holidaying?..... Isaak is as much a Swede as John Key is NO European.
11:39 September 11, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

The two Swedish journalists will write a book. The Swedish Film Institute will sponsor a film about their odyssey. Carl Bildt will appoint them as goodwill ambassadors. Swedes will enshrine them higher that their Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swedish tabloids will sell milions of copies with headlines such as: Free at Last. Reinfeldt pleased. Ehiopia receives a bigger subsidy. Martin tells his birthday history. Johan shaves. What else?

We shall see what we shall see.
15:08 September 11, 2012 by jostein
@ thelionking

If you mean "swedish citizen", then write "swedish citizen". If you mean member of one of the oldest indigenous people of europe, then write "swede".
15:47 September 11, 2012 by BBKING
How the hell could it be because of international pressure or Carl Blidt's presence that they were released and not because Meles approved their pardon? Rest in Peace Meles Zenawi. A true hero.
20:21 September 11, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

The circus Ethiopia has begun. Bildt and Reinfeldt will make a political issue to win votes for the next elections in 2014. Pinocchio and Snoopy will be adopted as mascots in Ethiopia. The ceremony will be held at the offices of Lundin Petroleum.

As BBKING wrote, "How in the hell could it be because of international pressure or Carl Blidt's presence that they were released and not because Meles approved their pardon?"

Plain Swedish way of wearing someone elses hat, BBKING.

@jostein #17

Could you stick to the theme? We do not need English lessons here, unless you think the opposite.
10:27 September 12, 2012 by Cornelius Hamelberg
A feather in somebody's cap!

Whose cap?

Carl Bildt of course and quiet (behind the scenes diplomacy).

Even after the tragic passing away of PM Meles Zenawi , the experts were wrong , that in jostling for power the new leaders would relegate the fate of Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye to the back burner. At that point, our foreign minister could not very well come out - to blabber about the promises already made to him that they would be home by September. He had to keep that knowledge under his hat.

Right now it's : Grattis!Congratulations. Everybody's happy: Persson, Schibbye, family, Carl Bildt, Sweden. The European Union, USA!

In due course we will probably read a best seller, a detailed account of the adventure/( trials and tribulations) penned by Persson & Schibbye, and their freedom, after 437 days....

Any more Perssons and Schibbyes eager to investigate what's happening in Eastern Ethiopia?

That remains to be seen.
16:41 September 13, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
#6 "themoron," aka #11 "prince T,"

Oxford dictionary definition of "spelt" = "past participle of spell."

And Africa is still spelt with a "C," not "K."

Stop learning English from rap music...Read books.

Class dismissed.
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