“We only received the information yesterday and at the moment we don’t know why it took so long for them to tell us or the embassy,” Linn Duvhammar at the Foreign Ministry’s information department told The Local.
The Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested and injured in the closed border area Ogaden, on July 1st, when caught in a battle between Ethiopian government forces and the ONLF guerilla.
The journalists entered Ethiopia illegally together with the rebels, who are classed as terrorists by the regime. Following their arrest, the pair was taken to a detention centre in the city Jijiga, where they were permitted to meet briefly with Swedish ambassador Jens Odlander.
After many conflicting reports as to where they were being held, the pair was subsequently moved to Addis Ababa.
According to Duvhammar, it wasn’t until Wednesday that the ministry found out about the early remand hearing, following a meeting between Swedish embassy representatives and Ethiopian officials.
It was then revealed that a preliminary remand hearing had been conducted as early as July 6th in Jijiga, prior to the move of the two Swedish reporters to Addis Ababa.
The ministry had previously been told that no such hearing had taken place.
According to the ministry, an additional remand hearing has now been scheduled for the 20th of July. The ministry are planning to have suitable legal representation for the two Swedes by then.
“They will have a lawyer at the next hearing. Staff at the embassy are working to get someone to represent them,” Duvhammar told The Local.