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Bildt rejects mounting Ethiopia criticism

TT/Rebecca Martin · 7 Oct 2011, 07:30

Published: 07 Oct 2011 07:30 GMT+02:00

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“Let those who know what they’re doing handle it,” Bildt said to TV4 on Thursday.

Bildt waved off a new motion handed in by the Greens on Thursday, proposing that it might be better if the prime minister handles the matter as “party political bickering”.

According to the Greens, not enough is being done to ensure the Swedish reporters’ return to Sweden.

“The government need to step it up,” Mats Pertoft, MP for the Green Party, told TV4.

The two freelance reporters Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested in the beginning of July, in the Ogaden province of Ethiopia, bordering on Somalia, and charged with terror crimes.

The two journalists had entered the country illegally and were in the company of the region’s ONLF guerrillas at the time of their arrest.

From the beginning the pair have been adamant that they are innocent of terrorist charges.

Recently there has been speculation in the Swedish media whether the two were in the country to report on Lundin Petroleum, a Swedish oil and mining company, at the time of their arrest.

In a report from 2010, ECOS (European Coalition on Oil in Sudan), an umbrella group of European organizations published a report called "Unpaid Debt", urging Sweden, Austria and Malaysia to probe whether Lundin Petroleum (then Lundin Oil), in consortium with Petronas and OMV, had broken international law between 1997 and 2003.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt was on the board of directors of Lundin Petroleum at the time.

However, on Thursday Carl Bildt rejected any claims that his previous involvement with the company would have an impact on the dealings with Ethiopia in the case of the two jailed reporters.

“Why would it? There is no conceivable reason for that. I don’t believe that Lundin Petroleum is in that area but even if they were, it would be totally irrelevant,” Bildt said on Thursday.

Although the Greens don’t have confirmation of a connection between the foreign minister and the area, they think that the government must take a more stern approach in the matter.

“And one way of doing that, irrespective of Carl Bildt, is to hand the issue over to the prime minister,” Pertoft said.

Story continues below…

However, Bildt said to TV4 that he thinks it is better to let those that are dealing with the matter continue their work on it.

“At the foreign ministry, we have considerable experience in these matters. Sometimes we solve things without you even hearing about them, and other times we make use of loud diplomacy,” Bildt said on Thursday.

On Friday demonstrations are planned by the organization Reporters without Borders, the Swedish Journalists' Union and the Swedish Publishers' Association in Gothenburg and Stockholm.

The organisations demand that the government give the case the highest political priority, that Bildt and Reinfeldt officially show their support of the two Swedes and that the matter is raised internationally.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:20 October 7, 2011 by HYBRED
Maybe the reporters were just investigating why the Ethiopians do so well at marathon running. Or do to the rising obesity in Sweden, they were investigating how the Ethiopians stay so thin. In any event, they entered the country illegally. Just because you call yourself a reporter doesn't give you automatic access to wherever you want to go.
11:55 October 7, 2011 by lovedealer76
Why has the Green MP accuses the foreign minister of something they them selves don't have a clue?in my opinion,they are just trying to be politically correct in the public eyes.

Even the swedish prime minister won't find those journalist release any easier,is not like the Ethiopian goverment was interested in any financial favours from sweden only then it can be easy,it's rather unfortunate those journalist just mess with the wrong country given their violent history.......
12:49 October 7, 2011 by diegoveggie
this guy is a total douch. ont only he wastes tax money on fancy drinks with his pals but he doesnt do the job hes paid to do.
13:11 October 7, 2011 by lovedealer76

I'm sorry can you elaborate on your facts on the foreign minister please?or else i should be thinking of you as the Green MP on the same senseless attacks
13:43 October 7, 2011 by RobinHood
Busting "spies" out of tin pot dictatorships takes considerable amounts of time and tax payers' money. The journalists value will reach a maximum only after they have been convicted of spying and sentenced to death. At that point Mr Bildt will be informed how much it will cost Sweden to extract its citizens. The money will be delivered, the journalists will be released, and the presedent of Ethipia and his repulsive family will all buy Ferraris and houses in Paris and London with the proceeds.

Of course, if the Green party knows another way, they should tell us what it is.
17:47 October 7, 2011 by Munir Ahmed

A Black reporter with Swedish citizenship has been rotting in jail in Eritrea for 10 years having broken no law, yet Swedes are calling for "highest political priority" when two White Swedish reporters get captured after admittedly crossing Somalia-Ethiopia border illegally with known terrorists. SICK!

Ogaden (ONLF) Islamic terrorist civilian massacres, ignored by $$$ hungry Swedish reporters:


18:26 October 7, 2011 by prince T
This case is different. Isaac has Eriterian nationality which allows the government to arrest him under international law. I am not praising so called silent diplomacy but stating that swedish power on Isaac case is limited. I think it is high time that sweden changes from quoet to loud diplomacy.
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