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PARDONED SWEDES COME HOME
'The government acted too slowly': relatives

'The government acted too slowly': relatives

Published: 15 Sep 2012 10:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 15 Sep 2012 10:08 GMT+02:00

Relatives of freed journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, jailed in Ethiopia on terror charges, have for the first time openly criticized the Swedish government's handling of their case.

In an interview with the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN), Johan Persson's father, Kjell Persson, accused the government of acting too slowly in the weeks after the two journalists' arrest in Ethiopia.

Persson also accused Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and foreign minister Carl Bildt of making a series of "clumsy" and insensitive statements and of declining potentially useful assistance from former foreign minister, Jan Eliasson.

Bildt wrote a long blog post on Tuesday explaining how he and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs had worked with the Swedish embassy in Addis Abeba to secure the reporters' release.

But Kjell Persson is not convinced. He criticized Bildt for releasing a statement soon after the two freelance journalists' arrest in which he accused them of having "gone into a conflict area which we have strongly advised against".

Persson was also critical of Reinfeldt's description of Ethiopia as a "dictatorship" at a time when relatives and officials were working hard to conduct a dialogue with Addis Ababa.

Further, he said that Jan Eliasson, a foreign minister in the previous Social Democrat government, could have been helpful as he has many contacts in Ethiopia, but that Reinfeldt dismissed Eliasson's offer of assistance without any discussion.

Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye themselves have chosen to hold off making any statements about the Swedish government's involvement in negotiating their release.

They say they know too little at this point, having been unable to access any news sources during their 14-month captivity in the notorious Kality-prison in Ethiopia.

But the two gave credit to Sweden's ambassador in Ethiopia, Jens Odlander, and to the previous consul general in Addis Ababa, Fredrik Spik.

Odlander and Spik accompanied the two journalists throughout the court process and visited them several times in the Kality-prison.

Odlander did not want to comment on his contributions but sent a text message to Dagens Nyheter newspaper which said: "Mission accomplished".

Schibbye and Persson were arrested in Ethiopia's Ogaden region last year in the company of what the government claimed were rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The pair was detained after illegally crossing the border from Somalia, and after a long and controversial trial were jailed for 11 years by an Ethiopian court in December 2011, having been found guilty of supporting terrorism and entering the country illegally.

The pair was pardoned on Monday in connection with the Ethiopian New Year, when the country traditionally pardons prisoners.

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Your comments about this article

10:42 September 15, 2012 by Hunner1210
"The government wah wah"-no. This is why Swedes don't go to freaking Ethiopia! You go to these third world countries then are shocked when something happens? Durrrr
10:48 September 15, 2012 by star10
Why would the government spend tax payers resource on them? They ventured for fame and should bear the consequence. They are not 'innocent' travelers. They knew what they were getting into. Their trip was an adventure. They took the risk knowingly. So don't cry your mission fails. Accept the consequence of your adventure gracefully. That way, they would at least look like brave men. Now, they appear like irresponsible and spoiled boys (which they actually are) complaining on their parents.
12:04 September 15, 2012 by Swissbank
Their parent are the same, they didnot thanks the Ethiopian government for free them...any how this the thanks we get.. If u ask me Sweden can closed their emasbasy in Addis Ababa tomorrow. Trust me we Africa can do it without Sweden.. We have richer then Sweden.. We are blessed in natural resources... If u don't respect us.. I don't even care donation Sweden give us. What Africa need is a pereson who show us how to fish not giving us fish what Sweden does is giving us fish.. It will not help us in long run.. But we will never forget how u guys disrespect us... How a person lie to get free and trun around accuse us taking money.. Why in hell did u give as money if u have higher moral ground? Are u the same corrupt for bribe us.. If u lie in front of Ethiopian Tv to be free. How I will belive u, u r not doing it to make money.. I thought their perent but then their children but I was mistaken.
14:16 September 15, 2012 by Migga
@ Swissbank

You are so right. The right way isn`t to give someone funds for free, one should teach them to help themselves. Africans are just like most others and are capable of taking care of themselves. To ignore that capacity and just give things for free is degrading.

These journalist should show some more respect to the fact that the Ethiopiens thought they were criminals. I mean you enter the area illegaly, you hire gunmen and there is photos of you carrying guns. They weren`t only risking their own lives but everyone involved. They should consider themselves lucky to be alive.

These relatives sure have some cheek to say that the government acted to slow.
15:30 September 15, 2012 by Swissbank
@Migga

Thanks, I am telling u they have it Good. No one one earth they are innocent.. Carrying Ak-47 and claim u r journalist will not cut it.

pardon is our long tradition.. And they are not the first who abuse our long tradition pardon.. Not long a go our jailed oppositions leader who got pardon only to run to America and denied that they ask for forgiveness... So they ( the Sweden) think we don't know that they will back track on their word... Guess what we know we pardon many before u. Regardless u abuse our pardon we will keep on pardon many more after u guys we will not stop our tradition because of u.

Dear Migga, we have no control over what Sweden does but we can show our people what those two so called reporter saying..sad but truth people in Africa easily mislead by Wester reporter. I think this is a great moment to show western reporter too lie though their teeth.... I could not belive those two ungrateful saying we lie because we want pardon.. Meaning we didn't do any wrong... Carrying Ak-47 no problem, no visa no problem.. Mistak what mistake... Illiagal entry what illiagal entry. They have the adosity to say the government acting slowly... O master the goverment should have free them as soon as we are told by Sweden goverment.

They way understand Sweden thinking is they give us donation second they have our refugees so they think they have us by the neck. Guess what Sweden have billion dollar investment in Ethiopia be it oil drilling, car factory etc etc... I hope u r not investing because u love us.. So the benfit cut both way.. Trust me Africa is moving on... We are the next best thing. We are the china of Africa Africa are booming... This thing drive me crazy... Biting the hand that feed in grand scale.

I am sorry I am done my only wish is Ethiopia government to broadcast for ethiopian public to see in their own eyes this reporter lie... Abuse our pardon.
16:18 September 15, 2012 by johan rebel
The government was way too fast, they should've left them to rot another 10 years in jail in Ethiopia.

Only in Sweden can muppets like these become heroes. If they were my relatives I would change my surname and disown them.
16:54 September 15, 2012 by prince T
U see what i have been saying. These ungrateful guys are already millionaires. They are already reserving thier ordeals that may come out in a book or major interview. I wish they spend 4 years to ralise that they have crossed the linee. Thank God it is not Eriteria, they would have rut in jail.
17:24 September 15, 2012 by Iraniboy
Since they are journalist they should have had a better picture of our world today. It's not like Sweden everywhere! Their situation was illegal in any country! If they were found in an apartment next to an apartment of a terrorist group in the US without having their passport stamped by the US border agency, then they were now in prison for not less than 11 years!
21:38 September 15, 2012 by 3319abraham
Ethiopia has 86 milion people, and according to World Bank records, its average economic growth for the past 10 years has been above 10% while Sweden has 9 milion people and annual economic growth (max) 1.2% for 2012 according to Nordea Bank.

Ethiopia is the mini "China - India - Brazil of Africa". Ethiopia is a huge market for high quality Swedish products and machinery. We need each other, but remember Ethiopia has the natural resources and go ahead withouth Swedish cooperation or aid.

Let not these two clowns spoil the good relations of Sweden and Ethiopia.
11:47 September 16, 2012 by jockha
People like this makes me embarresed for being a Swede.
01:09 September 17, 2012 by BBKING
I am an Ethiopian residing in Sweden as a student and all I can say here has been said by the people who commented above. I thank you all for that. I believe that there are quite a lot of good-natured Swedes and the journalists do not represent Sweden at all. SO no need to feel embarrased about being a Swede but rather we need more love between the peoples of Ethiopia and Sweden. Jah love!
18:30 September 17, 2012 by Swissbank
@prince T,

"U said These ungrateful guys are already millionaires"

Answer:-

Ethiopia gives them more then money, their life back...yes these ungrateful might make money in our expense. Ill gotten million will not sure with Ogaden  people...so it is blood money..for us it is not about illegally crossing our border or not.. For us it is not a joke.. It cost as in human life, what these two clown did.

If they want money they could have get it in rightful way. If they said we are thankful to Ethiopian government and said they are looking forward to go back to help Ethiopian. They would have cemented their currier... They would have been received as hero in Ethiopia. They could have been unofficial Sweden ambassadors...they could have it all.   

Economy 101

Sweden is like canvas Leonardo da Vinci oil painted Last Supper

Leonardo de Vinci will not paint  Mona Lisa over Last Supper.

So he will need fresh canvas that Ethiopia is

Ethiopia have a lot of  potential late me give u one example. Sweden can be the first  wester nation to start full car manufacturing company. U might think i am crazy. So late me list advantage of any Sweden co. Who like to open shop in Ethiopia.

1. Ethiopians might not afford Volvo but Ethiopia is next door to oil rich countries

Since cheap car coming from far east flooding oil rich market Volvo might have a fighting chance by located near to market and safe on transportation

2. Wage much lower in fact unbelievable

3. Discipline workers and very cool temper workers

4. Ethiopia have long tradition of respecting law and order, rioting or  union strike  are not used to solve problem instead workers prefer civilized talk to reach mutual agreement

5. Respect for foreigner this is Ethiopian long standing tradition. On Lineup (queue) people offer u  to go head of the queue, Because we see foreigners as our guest. It might shock some foreigner to get first class treatment but never take this beautiful gesture for guaranteed alway wait until offered.

6. Cheap or even free land

7. Cheap Or even free electricity Ethiopia have a lot of hydro power coming online soon

8. Tax holiday

9.  Stable political and stable government.

10. I mention car company but any small company can do image all of sudden Sweden company have 80million customers. Of course if manufactured in Sweden it might be costly for Ethiopians customers but if it is manufactured in ethiopia. we already know the Sweden quality but if the price is right the whole Africa would be our market. From cutting knife u name it we buy it..

U can't sale to rich people they already have almost every thing. Already ikea sold them a bed for next five,ten year they are out of the market.. Ethiopia 80 million people still need to buy their ikea bed..
20:29 September 17, 2012 by Hisingen
Heaven help any other journalist who wants to visit Ethiopia now, since these two have well and truly put the kibosh on their chances. One of the first things they did once in Sweden was to say that their 'admissions of guilt' were purely a stage play, and now the parents are saying the government acted too slowly. Talk about hypocrisy!

They played a false hand - and lost, and due to considerable behind-the-scenes diplomacy they have been freed. Gratitude - not much sign of it. Perhaps another year or two behind bars would have made them think a little bit differently, although I doubt it. That would have meant they actually had to think about the consequences of their actions. They are indeed looking a gift horse in the mouth.
13:16 September 18, 2012 by Migga
@ Swissbank

You make a good point again.

"If they said we are thankful to Ethiopian government and said they are looking forward to go back to help Ethiopian. They would have cemented their currier... They would have been received as hero in Ethiopia."

If these guys really wanted to help Ethiopia then they would do anything and everything to settle the problems there. But they won`t. They will complain about what Sweden did or didn`t do and totaly ignore the chance to resolve the issue in Ethiopia.

They went there to get their scoop and they didn`t care how many ethiopians deaths it might have cost. But as soon as they themselves were in trouble they were fast to show of their white skin and yell "we are western journalists".
19:41 September 18, 2012 by flintis
How much taxpayers money has been wasted because of these 2 morons, they like all other do gooder journalist know the risks of entering a country illegally, not to mention a war zone.
01:43 September 23, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
The U.S. media does not defend Americans who break international laws...But Swedish media wants to make heroes out of Swedes who hire gunmen and cause DEATHS OF 12 PEOPLE in firefight while ILLEGALLY crossing border.

Nuts!
19:30 September 28, 2012 by Hisingen
Already there are repercussions from their revelations. Clearly the old saying has never occurred to them that 'A still tongue makes a wise head.'

Babble away you nutters. Hope you never again get stuck 'behind enemy lines' as no doubt the government WILL be slow to react next time, no matter how hard your parents complain.
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