• Sweden's news in English

Swedish reporters held in custody in Ethiopia

TT/The Local/rm · 4 Jul 2011, 06:52

Published: 04 Jul 2011 06:52 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

“Last time I spoke to them they were being pursued by car. They are in a very dangerous area,” said fellow journalist Anna Roxwall, who was the last person in contact with the missing Swedes before they disappeared, to TT.

Freelance journalist Johan Persson and photo-journalist Martin Schibbye first entered Ethiopia by crossing the border to Somalia. The purpose of the journey was to shadow the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) Guerrilla and report on the conflict between the Somali guerrillas and the Ethiopian state.

On Sunday news agency TT reported that the UK branch of the ONLF had said in a statement that a pro-Ethiopian newspaper had published the names of the missing Swedes and confirmed that they had been taken into custody by the army.

The paper also was reported saying that the two men’s guerrilla guides had been killed.

Roxwall told TT that Schibbye and Persson had promised to check in with her every third day, but since June 27th it has not been possible for her or for their families to get in touch with them.

Abdi Mahdi, who heads of the UK branch of the ONLF organization in London told TT on Sunday evening that he had been in contact with the reporters three days ago.

“I spoke to them when they were on their way into Ogaden, and we provided them with guides and directions. The plan was for them to tour the whole area but when we didn’t hear from them we began to worry,” Mahdi told TT.

Later on Sunday night it was confirmed by Ethiopian authorities that Ethiopian soldiers had killed 15 ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region.

Schibbye and Persson, who accompanied them, were reported to have sustained minor injuries in the clash between guerrilla and government forces.

“15 rebels, all armed, were killed and six were injured. Two Swedish reporters sustained minor injuries during the fighting,” Shimelis Kemal, spokesman for the Ethiopian government told news agency Reuters on Sunday.

He added that the Swedes were currently held in custody but were receiving treatment for their injuries.

Roxwall and the families of the missing journalists had informed the Swedish Foreign Ministry of the men’s disappearance, according to TT.

“We have since contacted our embassy in Addis Ababa and advised them to look into the matter,” Cecilia Julin, head of the information department at the ministry, told TT.

Story continues below…

The ministry issued a warning against travelling in the area in 2010.

Prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, currently in Almedalen for Sweden's annual political week, has received no exact information about the two reporters and doesn't know what the Swedish government can do to help them.

"We will have to see what we can do if it comes to that," said Reinfeldt said to TT.

TT/The Local/rm (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

09:02 July 4, 2011 by MC7669
Mankell where are you what Zup!? .......why don't you go to Ethiopia and see what is going on there? the palestinians will manage don't worry theiy have nowhere to go....
10:02 July 4, 2011 by truthworthy
Ethiopia's dictatorship has been massacring the people of Ogaden for a half a century. Obviously they dont want anyone to expose the burned villages, rapped women and people who have been denied basic human rights.

and yet...Ethiopia still receives millions of dollars from the west as aid and miltary support.

and one man rule since 1990.
10:06 July 4, 2011 by batista123
Mankell where you are, what Sup!? ....... Why not go to Ethiopia and see what happens? Palestinians will manage so do not worry theiy have nowhere to go ....
11:14 July 4, 2011 by Munir Ahmed
ONLF terrorists machine gunned to death 74 Chinese and Ethiopian oil workers asleep in their beds, killed UN food aid workers...Why are Swedish journalists following ONLF terrorists on another killing mission for publicity $$$?

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

Reuters: http://af.reuters.com/article/ethiopiaNews/idAFLDE74D0CU20110514
12:01 July 4, 2011 by merere
Since the ONLF is declared terrorist group by the Ethiopian Government, the involved Swedish individuals will be considered as supporters of terrorism. Bad luck for the guys....but hope the Ethiopian Government may lower the charge against them
12:52 July 4, 2011 by A/Hassan
For the last 4 and plus years, Ogaden has been closed to the outside world and with the help of the international community, and particularly the West, dictator Meles Zenawi has been atrociously massacring innocent civilians in Ogaden with impunity!! We in the West claim to believe in democracy and human rights, yet our governments are unwittingly funding a full-blown genocide in Ogaden with our hard-earned money. Let us uphold our core values and principles and not support ruthless dictators. The Ogaden people are living in a Nazi-like concentration camps and they need our help to save them from this menacing tyrany.

Meanwhile, I feel sorry for the two gentlemen for being deprived of fulfilling your humanitarian efforts in Ogaden. I pray for your safe return to your beloved ones and country so as to be able to enjoy your freedom and liberty once again.
13:27 July 4, 2011 by Uncle
Since I tend to doubt whatever truthworthys and hassans are claiming, I went and read about the conflict there…

Apparently, the "peace loving and fluffy" ONLF killed 74 workers in April 2007, which was a culmination of other peace loving actions. Although it indeed seems like Ethiopian forces are engaging in mass killings, "testimony before the United States House of Representatives Committee on Foreign affairs revealed massive brutality and killings by the ONLF rebels"…

Looks like both sides are peace loving, fluffy and lying.

What I personally adore is the outcries by the 3rd world representatives here.

If there is trade with some dictatorship in Africa/Asia/S. America, then the West is supporting horrible dictators who dream of nothing, but to kill as many babies as possible.

When there is no trade, then the West is submitting the people of these countries to blockade, suffering and horrors and therefore assisting to active murder of babies.

When the West is helping dictators against rebels - the West is bloodthirsty invader. Westerners should die to stop.

When the West is helping rebels against dictators - the West is murderous, greedy and one-sided invader. Westerners should die to stop.

When the West is not helping either side - the West is not-caring and promoting bigotry. Westerners should die to start.

How about not being helpless retards and start helping yourself, given that you control huge amounts of resources and lands, that you cannot divide after "big daddy" West left without dividing it properly between the aggressive children?
14:29 July 4, 2011 by RasAli
I have also read that the two reporters were doing the same mission before in similar occassion and place. One of the reporter was caught and pardoned by the Ethiopian government. The Swidish minister declared the area forbidden. The group is declared as terrorist group. Add all this things and the result is a place called KALITI
15:17 July 4, 2011 by A/Hassan
Whatever the Ethiopian regime and its masonry affiliates may say, it is true the true face of Meles's despicable human rights record is coming to the light as it has been exposed by this incident and the one before it where the U.N. staffs who came to feed the poor and IDP were silenced. The sad news is that Ethiopia is seemingly escaping from international censure as usual.
18:33 July 4, 2011 by birhan
Weyane/EPRDF is a killer dictatorial mafia group of family,


ruling the country, Ethiopia, under the gun lead in the wrong direction with the help of you western country. This is time for you to weak up and help the Ethiopian people by not supporting and giving money for crime family who stolen more than $ 8.4 billion into their account, don't you need your money???

now the country is one of dictatorial regime (non freedom) country, They are buying modern weapons with your donated money


to kill innocent people and make them to starve and now to warn and kill you too, be aware and help only the democratic group of the peoples
13:16 July 5, 2011 by Grateful_Human
for rational human beings who are wondering why the Swedish journalists were in this risky mission, please have a look at the video on this website.

13:56 July 5, 2011 by Omicron
Kudos to the two Swedish journalists who have endured the excruciating climate and put their life at risk in search of a hidden truth! In the past journalists of New York times were captives of the Ethiopian junta. The Meles regime (composed of a minority, cruel, inhumane, barbaric and brutal militia, mainly from the Tigre tribe) is committing sheer genocide in Ogaden, Oromia and Gambella regions of Ethiopia for the past 20 years. These ongoing blatant human rights violation has been documented and confirmed by some local and International human rights organizations. Although the Ethiopian junta tried to cover the Ogaden zone from world media, some courageous journalists have uncovered the gross human rights violation perpetrated by the minority regime. The junta also tries to label ONLF and others as terrorist organization, but that attempt of Meles has not received wide reception. Yesterday, the spokesperson for the US embassy in Ethiopia said ONLF, OLF and Ginbot 7 are no terrorist organizations. In my view the terrorist element in the conflict is the vicious army of the Meles regime that has maimed and killed thousands of Ogadeni and other citizens. Hopefully, the dictator in Addis will end in Hague for his atrocity and human rights violation on Ethiopians for the last 20 years.

19:17 July 5, 2011 by Methusalem
I think the Swedes should be grateful to God that their nationals are in the hands of Ethiopians. If they were taken by Somalis, their dead bodies would have been dragged down the streets of Mogadishu.
07:58 July 6, 2011 by Grateful_Human
Methusalem, Didn't you read the news. Somalis/Ogaden were their protectors and guides and TPLF is the one who injured them. It would be better to talk about solutions rather than blindly defend genocide and wide-spread atrocities in this age. Look what happened to Mladic and Hosni Mubarak who was more dear to the West than Meles. Plus now the world knows that Meles carries out genecide, denied ICRC and other international organisations access to this region, jams VOA, Duetche-Welle (German Radio), Ethiopian Satellite TV with the help of China. I say this is not sustainable and Meles and followers like you should know this. Therefore I say let us talk about solutions, not Propaganda.
23:31 July 6, 2011 by Geesi Ciilan
Highlanders who exploited my resources on behalf of Oil-Hungry Chinese funders met their waterloo in June 24th which good lessons taught by tired tiger-paper.

Love to see their dying eyes in Ogaden soil for their wrong-doing.Again your days are limited and Swedish Journalist will have a great honor for their bravery soon.
Today's headlines
Swedish photographer shot near Mosul
Hansen was being operated on in the Iraqi city of Erbil on Sunday. Photo: Nora Lorek/ TT

Paul Hansen, a photographer working for Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, has sustained light injuries after being hit by what appears to be a sniper while covering the battle for the Isis-held city of Mosul in Iraq.

Trollhättan remembers school attack victims
'It was an attack on all of Sweden,' Education Minister Gustav Fridolin said. Photo: Thomas Johansson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday turned out for a torchlight procession in the small town of Trollhättan in southwestern Sweden to honour the victims of last year’s deadly school attack there.

Sweden wants emission-free cars in EU by 2030
Photo: Jessica Gow/ TT

Sweden's environment minister on Saturday urged the European Union to ban petrol and diesel-powered vehicles from 2030.

Hundreds protest Swedish asylum laws
Around 1,000 people protested in Stockholm. Photo: Fredrik Persson/ TT

Hundreds of people on Saturday demonstrated in Stockholm and in many other parts of the country to protest Sweden’s tough new laws on asylum-seekers.

Dylan removes Nobel-mention from website
The American musician has more or less responded to the news with silence. Photo: Per Wahlberg

American singer-song writer Bob Dylan has removed any mention of him being named one of this year’s Nobel Prize laureates on his official website.

Refugee crisis
Asylum requests in Sweden down by 70 percent
Sweden's migration minister Morgan Johansson. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Sweden received 70 percent fewer requests for asylum in the period between January and September 2016 than it did during the same time last year, the country’s justice and migration minister Morgan Johansson has revealed.

The unique story of Stockholm's floating libraries
The Stockholm archipelago book boat. Photo: Roger Hill.

Writer Roger Hill details his journeys on the boats that carry books over Stockholm's waterways and to its most remote places.

Refugee crisis
Second Stockholm asylum centre fire in a week
The new incident follows a similar fire in Fagersjö last week (pictured). Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Police suspect arson in the blaze, as well as a similar incident which occurred last Sunday.

More misery for Ericsson as losses pile up
Ericsson interim CEO Jan Frykhammar presenting its third quarter results. Photo: Claudio Bresciani/TT

The bad news just keeps coming from the Swedish telecoms giant.

Facebook 'sorry' for removing Swedish cancer video
A computer displaying Facebook's landing page. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

The social media giant had censored a video explaining how women should check for suspicious lumps in their breasts.

Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Here's where it could snow in central Sweden this weekend
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden's 'a-kassa'
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
People-watching: October 12th
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
Nobel Prize 2016: Chemistry
jobs available