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Swedish journalists denied Ethiopia entry

TT/The Local/pvs · 10 Oct 2011, 08:27

Published: 10 Oct 2011 08:27 GMT+02:00

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"If Swedish journalists are not allowed into the country we won't find out what has happened," author Ola Larsmo, chair of writers' association Swedish Pen, told the Dagens Nyheter daily.

Sveriges Radio, Sveriges Television, TV4, Dagens Nyheter and the TT news agency have all applied for visas to cover the trial.

The trial is scheduled to begin on October 18th.

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.

Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt has been criticised recently for his handling of the case.

Story continues below…

Last Thursday Bildt rejected any claims that his previous involvement with Lundin Petroleum would have any impact on dealings with Ethiopia in the reporters' case.

“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.

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

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Your comments about this article

09:21 October 10, 2011 by OUIJA
Perhaps, Ethipia did not want the usual Swedish media circus. One more case for Carl Bildt. Read his blog.
09:57 October 10, 2011 by DAVID T
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. Not a leg to stand on really - if you can't do the time don't do the crime.
10:15 October 10, 2011 by OUIJA
They were in the company of the ONLF guerrillas because they wanted to teach them how to make Swedish meatballs and use them as bullets.
11:13 October 10, 2011 by RobinHood
A trial in a near dictatorship like Ethiopia is not a trial in the traditional meaning of the word. The judge has received his instructions, and the verdict and sentence has already been decided. It is hardly surprising Ethiopia would prefer as few journalists as possible around to watch the charade unfold, and may find it necesary to hold the trial in secrecy if it attracts too much international attention.

The sentence will be stiff (perhaps death) to ensure Sweden must pay a very large amount of "aid" before the prisoners are released "on humanitarian grounds". The longer the sentence, the more "aid" will be necessary, so the judge will be instructed to throw the book at them.

Bildt has very little influence over the process, until the negotiation stage begins. People who think he does, are naive. Right now, he is reshuffling his budgets to find the several million dollars he will need soon. In Ethiopia, numerous politicians and judges are busy leafing through Ferrari brochures, and preparing their Swiss bank accounts for a large deposit of Swedish "aid".
11:31 October 10, 2011 by muscle
meanwhile, in south of sweden, nothing is happening.
16:34 October 10, 2011 by philster61
Why would anybody want to go to Ethiopia in the first place?
21:25 October 10, 2011 by Omicron
This is a minor testimony to the "democracy" that is flourishing in Ethiopia. Western leaders beginning with Clinton and Tony Blair were praising this democracy and the murderous regime of Meles Zenawi for quite some time and still some Western countries are not interested to speak against the widespread human rights abuse going on in the country since the junta came to power through the barrel of a gun an dwith a blessing of USA in 1991. The Meles regime has committed genocide in Gambella, Ogaden and Oromia as documented by various human rights organizations such as Genocide Watch. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are not allowed to visit Ethiopia. There is wanton destruction of human life and the environment by the current minority regime in Ethiopia since the junta took power in 1991. The number of tortured, disappeared or murdered Ethiopians by the security of Meles has now reached many thousands. There is no free press and free journalists are in essence all incarcerated or forced to leave the country. Even musicians who sing about Ethiopia are intimidated by the countries ruling minority regime. Some were murdered by the junta. This is a reckless government that implants a bomb and kill its own citizens to accuse opposition politicians as recently revealed by Wikileaks, from a secret document of US Embassy files. As a result I am not impressed by the refusal of visa to free media by this tribalist junta in Addis; they have a hidden secret and feared something will leak again. But time is not on their side as the wind from Arab spring will blow towards Ethiopia soon.
21:39 October 11, 2011 by OUIJA
Wait until the sentece is given. The circus will start because the show must go on and on and on, like in the case of Dawit Isaak
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