• Sweden's news in English

Ethiopians deny charges against jailed Swedes

TT/Rebecca Martin · 6 Jul 2011, 18:17

Published: 06 Jul 2011 18:17 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

"I was misquoted by the AFP reporter. I haven't said that they stand accused of anything. We are investigating why they were in the area.They were arrested in the wrong place with the wrong people, but we don't know why," Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told news agency TT.

He couldn't answer what the two Swedes stand accused of or when their case may go to trial.

"As they haven't been charged with anything and no interrogations have been held they have yet to receive legal representation," Mufti told TT.

The two Swedish reporters, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, were in a conflicted Ogaden region by the Somali border, when they were arrested on July 1st.

Ogaden is off-limits to journalists, and there is an armed conflict going on between the government army and the guerrilla movement Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The region is populated by ethnic Somalis, and the Swedes entered the area together with rebels from Somali breakaway republic Puntland, in order to report on the situation.

Despite the earlier information given by Ethiopian authorities that the two Swedish reporters had been moved to the capital city Addis Ababa, the Foreign Ministry were told on Wednesday afternoon that they are still held in the Jijiga area.

"We have had it confirmed to us that they are still in Jijiga. We don't know the reason behind it or if they still will be transferred to Addis Ababa," said Cecilia Juhlin of the Foreign Ministry to news agency TT.

The Swedish ambassador to Ethiopia, Jens Odlander, was not allowed to see the Swedes on Tuesday but is expected to visit the two reporters again as soon as he receives the green light from authorities.

“We are counting on visiting them again then. We have received positive information indicating that this request will be granted,” Juhlin told DN.

Story continues below…

But later on Wednesday they received the information that the men were still in Jijiga. Jens Odlander, who had returned to Addis Ababa following the news that the men were being taken there, does not want to speculate into what it means.

"Of course we are a little worried of the contradictory information. We haven't received any explanation," he told TT.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

10:41 July 6, 2011 by eddie123
"When two journalists are held captive in a foreign country because they have tried to report on possible human rights abuse, the government should speak up and demand their release. I find it very hard to understand why this is treated like any consular matter," Bengtsson told TT on Tuesday

seriously? is jasper bengtsson serious about what he is saying? supposing the said journalists were arrested, kidnapped or killed by the rebels? you people would scream and cry for justice. if ethiopia says a section of her country is a no go area, it is off limits and you should respect that.

i move around Sweden when i can and i love taking photographs of places i visit. in a number of places, i have seen signs banning the photographing of certain buildings and places in Sweden. i respect the signs and i put away my camera. that's called being law abiding. stay the heck away from ethiopia and allow ethiopians to deal with their issues. it is not for Sweden or her journalists to decide.
11:15 July 6, 2011 by yado
eddie.... That is what we say. u understand the problem. Nice saying.
11:20 July 6, 2011 by Grateful_Human

There is no genocide in Sweden like in Ogaden. You could be more constructive and talk about solutions instead of supporting genocide. Currently, there are hundereds of thousands dying by starvation in Ogaden, not because there is lack of food but because they are blockaded, their livestock denied to get water from wells, NGOs denied access to the region. All these happened to the people of Meles, Tigray. They fought to survive now they achieved more than they demanded. If you dont let Ogaden survive you may even experience them ruling you oneday, just like Meles's TPLF.
12:45 July 6, 2011 by Munir Ahmed
Typical shameless White mentality!

Unlike BBC or Reuters, not once has Swedish media reported ONLF terrorist proudly took credit for the machine gun murder of 74 Chinese and Ethiopian oil workers asleep in their beds, murder and kidnapping of UN workers...

...If White Swedish citizens had been machine gunned by Eritrean sponsored ONLF terrorist, not one Swedish reporter would be having romantic relationship with them.



REUTERS: http://af.reuters.com/article/ethiopiaNews/idAFLDE74D0CU20110514
13:42 July 6, 2011 by refugee
I do not understand why much attention is given to these two people more than 100 of thousends people suffering in Ogaden ...I also do not really understand why they have gone there ...???

History now repeats itself of 1868 the imprisment of Capitain Cameroon of great Britain by king Tewodros ii of Ethiopia .. the difference lies on PM Mlese Zenawi is trying to satsfy his personal and Westerns' interest, while Tewodros gave priority for his country died by killing himself rather that being captured by England troops ... Ethiopians consider him as hero forever .

16:46 July 6, 2011 by h2m
Ogaden Genocide was undergoing for a while, The Ethiopian Govenment gets the resource from west it also gets protection from the west including acceptance of blockage in ogaden. You do not see any one in the west rising the alarm. Our tax payares money are delebratly diverted to military puporse.This is documented in Human right watch and state departments annula human right reports, However, despite this, they have doubled the aid to Ethiopia. Name it this aid it is blood money any way.
17:55 July 6, 2011 by jamac
Ethiopia gets away with everything it has starved millions of ogaden people raped tortured and no one can say a god dame thing about it ! Becouse the western nations are as guilty as they are they finance the Genocide and their medea hides it under the carpet so if they prosecute the Evil dictator and his people he will surely tell on how the west had a hand in this sick ritual of mass killing of inocent people.
18:59 July 6, 2011 by Grävling
Hold on a second, was it Ethiopian diplomats who were denied to come to Sweden because they were too poor?
19:17 July 6, 2011 by Grateful_Human
Dear Munir, I dont like to speak on behalf of ONLF. But the Chinese were warned both before and after that incident. See here (It is likely you already know this!):


ONLF and Somali people in Ogaden have had a clear message. No one has the right to utilize our resources until there is resolution for the Ogaden conflict. As for the dead, I personally can say confidently that 90 percent of the dead were TPLF (Ethiopian ruling party) army sent to guard the Chinese.
19:56 July 6, 2011 by amoree
To all of you this is merely a story, but to millions of ogadenian its life or death. These men were just trying to report a hidden crime, genocide, rape and torture. Even thou it is wrong to put them in jail by the Ethiopian regime, maybe the world could see now what is going on in Ogden.

@eddie..if you can turn away..Then do not tell other to fallow you. Because if it was your family that is being killed or raped, you would not be saying this. If one human being is suffering we are all suffering. It is our duties to speak up for them.
20:19 July 6, 2011 by MC7669
Wowww so now Mankell will organize a flotila to Ethiopian and cancel the one to Gaza.......Nooooooo .........it is easier to be in Israel and blame the Israelis.....
21:03 July 6, 2011 by Abdifatah
The Ethiopian regime has continuously denied the basic rights of the people of the Ogaden the regime has over time refused aid agencies and international media outlets access to the region only to hide its crimes against humanity.

The international community must condemn the actions of the Ethiopian government and demand the immediate release of the two journalist. In addition the world must recognize that the Ogaden National Liberation Front is fighting for justice in the Ogaden region. We can no longer ingore the injustice in the Ogaden.
21:44 July 6, 2011 by manf2020
Two Swedes journalists caught by Ethiopian forces while crossing from Somalia to Ethiopia without proper documentation. Respect the laws and regulations of the country or face the consequence period.
21:53 July 6, 2011 by Freedom4all
The Ethiopian regime has continuously abusing the Ogaden people for the 20 years and still going today.Ethiopia gov doesn't want to allowed journalists to go to Ogaden b/c the gov is killing and raping people there.The gov wants to hide everything its crimes in Ogaden.The Swedish journalists were there to tell the millions of people stories who are getting raped and abused by Ethiopia ruling class.If Swedish gov tell the ethiopia gov we will not give you any aid if you don't free the journalists ....guess what they will go free today.We'll see what the Swedish gov will do next.
22:13 July 6, 2011 by Nuradin
I am calling for the immediate release of the two journalists currently held in somewhere in Ogaden.

These brave journalists went to region to report on the dire human rights situation that are taking there. The Ethiopian regime is trying to hide from the world the illegal detentions, tortures, rapes, and extrajudicial killings they commit in Ogaden by banning journalists from visiting the region. This horrible situation is unacceptable.

The Swedish journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, must be immediately released and journalist must be allowed access to the region.
22:36 July 6, 2011 by Geesi Ciilan
Abyssinia(Ethiopia) is an American puppet deal with the Americans and we,Ogadenis deal with the illegal occupation of Addis Ababa with our five fingers including our palms.
08:11 July 7, 2011 by awash
I really appericiate the courage of these journalists to reveal what's going on in Ogaden region of Ethiopia...but on a second note I wonder why there's no Western journlists especially Swedes who have never went illegally (not even once)to Ethiopia's neighbour Eritrea, to expose the appalling human rights abuses perptuated by the Eritrean regime where their 'compatriot citzen' Dawit Issak (Eritrean Swedish Journalist) jailed for the last 10years? Is it fear or double standard or Oil?
11:18 July 7, 2011 by Akhyaar
i wonder! If to enter ogadenia is a crime then those who living in Ogadenia are under a punishment. Where 's the world police and human right..
12:20 July 7, 2011 by eddie123
i'm sorry to say that why this isssue is tragic, the disposition of people commenting here is funny. if you claim that ogaden region is being subjected to human rights abuse for years, why hasn't the UN, the EU, AU and NATO taken action? why invade Libya but not Ethiopia? and when some of you claim that aid money is diverted to purchase military equipment, who manufactures the equipment? some western nation for sure bar China and Russia. the crux of the matter is this, two irresponsible Swedish journalists conniving with terrorist elements, violated the immigration laws of Ethiopia. for working with terrorists, these journalists can be charged as enemies of the state and severely punished with little or no consequences to Ethiopia. that's the truth folks. the other fellow has been in an Eritrean jail for years and nothing will come of it.
18:45 July 7, 2011 by keraman2
They enter illegaly into a country with well known TERRORISTS, UN NGO KILLERS!!

Not only are they CRIMINALS, they are TERRORIST accomplices!!

They both should be prosecuted and SENTENCED!!!!
21:53 July 7, 2011 by J. L. Belmar
Why has no media written about which media gave these two journalists the task to do reportages in that area? Can The Local answer to this question? or is something taboo for the so-called fredom of speech. An please, do not delete this comment. It looks now that The Local receives orders from Roberta Alenius.
08:44 July 8, 2011 by Asalefew
Thanks grateful_ human for your correction. However be positive when you comment something, you need to have moral that give you the correct judgment. To me I know the Ogaden opposition, the fundamental Slam group who supported and established by Libya ,Egypt , Saudi Arabia and by some Arab nations who don't want to see the christen nation Ethiopia there. The Eretria government is the mastermind who works with them to make money and others support and who give military training for this group. Eretria wants to dismantle Ethiopia for the benefits of Arab and to create super power Eritrean in the horn by economy and military. We know this truth because of that nobody support this kind of movement as Ethiopian. Additionally Ethiopia has valuable resource in Ogden region. I know some countries to control that resource they like to separate Ogden from Ethiopia by using human right slogan. Please Ethiopian weak up this kind of approach it doesn't help any Ethiopian. Ethiopian defense forces keep your border, good job. Someone who inters the border without Visa especially with gun easily can go jell by any standard. I hope the diplomatic relation of the two countries can help and resolve the problem. I see here ONLF members comment if you want to resolve the problem drop your jihad mind and don't kill innocent.
15:48 July 8, 2011 by M/amin
Dear eddie, You asked yourself a question you already have its answer. Why the UN, AU NATO and so are not talking about the human rights abuses in Ogaden. Yes, the answer is simple. Simply because of their hypocricy and double standards. And simply because you know their hypocrate policy towards the Ogaden. However, Ogaden would no longer be called, the restive Ogaden, the Off limit zone, the No-go zone,. It is time for a change in the horn africa as well.

Dear Asalefow, Please be constructive and realistic about such topic of discussions. Ogaden is a region under Ethiopian occopation. YOU and many other know that. Ok you are lieing only to please your bosses or what. I guess you are well fed on the poor propoganda by the Ruling TPLF in Addis Abba, when I hear you mentioning an issue of religious conflict in Ethiopia. There is never Islamist movement in OGADEN nor did they get support from any muslim country. They depend on the will and support of the people of Ogaden. And beleive it or not, you will see sooner than later, a free Ogaden and disintegrated Ethiopia.
22:44 July 8, 2011 by Nuclear
Here we have a whole population, millions of people blockaded into a geographic area, denied access to the outside world whether that's the media, aid groups or human rights organisations yet people have the nerve to question the actions of journalists who took the decision to inform the world about the situation where no information was widely available.prior.Journalists have a moral obligation to report broadly on serious issues as the Universal declaration of human rights pertains inside and outside state borders, we see journalists do this daily in conflict zones where there personal safety is at risk but they do so because there profession dictates they provide factual information.The TPLF supporters, that's the dictatorship controlling Ethiopia need to get a grip of reality especially the ones yelling loudly from comfortable western capitals far from the dirty dusty Addis ababa with its beggars in the hundreds of thousands your government has no respect for human rights nor democratic principles, its ruthless and you know it.
23:48 July 8, 2011 by Geesi Ciilan
It does not make sense when you are claiming what is not yours.Ogadenia belongs to her people of Somali Ogadenis, not Highlanders, occupiers of Habesha/Tigre.

We killed Chinese and Ethiopian Highlanders together when they intended to steal our natural resources and whoever tries and follow the same path in the future will meet the same consequences.
01:29 July 12, 2011 by BBKING
Adventure-seeking Swedes making matters worse to the already fragile relations between Ethiopia and Sweden. Wake up Svergie! we have 80 million people who have love for people. I pray that one day the two countries will come to an understanding.
Today's headlines
Meet Sweden's lonely Donald Trump voter
A Donald Trump campaign button. Photo: Rogelio V Solis/AP

The Local talks to an American Donald Trump supporter on what it is like living in progressive stronghold Sweden.

Forgotten Ingmar Bergman script to be made into a film
It's thought the script was part of an ill-fated collaboration between Bergman (left) and Federico Fellini (right). Photo: AP

Written in 1969, the script is 'up to the standard of his best', according to the Ingmar Bergman Foundation.

Sweden's consumption footprint 'among the worst'
Trucks transporting goods on a Swedish highway. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

Sweden has been criticized for its unsustainable consumption of the planet's resources in the latest edition of a major WWF study.

Video: How to be Joel Kinnaman for a day
Kinnaman with one of the camera rigs that will allow people inside his head. Photo: Tele2

The Swedish Hollywood actor will strap a camera to his head, stream it live and allow viewers to interact with him this weekend.

Presented by Invest Stockholm
How Stockholm's cold climate boosts creativity
Photo: Ola Ericson/imagebank.sweden.se

Do long, dark winters actually make Swedes more creative and more productive? We spoke to Stockholm startups to find out.

Sweden to keep record-low interest rate in 2017
Sweden's landmark negative interest rate will continue towards 2018. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

The Swedish central bank said that it will take longer than expected to reach its inflation target.

Presented by Stockholm University
9 unexpected programmes at Stockholm University
Photo: Niklas Björling

Did you know Stockholm University offers 75 master's programmes taught in English? And some of them are programmes you won't find anywhere else...

Creepy clown messes with the wrong dog walker in Sweden
Not the clown in the story. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A dog helped its owner fight off a creepy clown chasing the pair in southern Sweden.

A million Swedes are digitally excluded: report
How should Sweden bridge the digital divide? Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Tech-savvy Swedes? Perhaps not. A new study suggests that at least a million of its residents feel the pain of the digital divide.

Malmö's 19th Swedish title sets Champions hopes alight
Malmö fans celebrating after the match. Photo: Björn Lindgren/TT

Malmö FF have their eyes set on the Champions League after winning the Swedish league for the 19th time.

Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 26th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Sweden cuts 2016 refugee forecast
Is Game of Thrones coming to Sweden?
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
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Property of the week: Kungsholmen, Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
The Local Voices
'I simply don’t believe in nationality'
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
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
jobs available