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Swedes to face Ethiopia court next week

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07:44 CEST+02:00
The trial of two Swedish journalists facing terrorism charges in Ethiopia will begin next week, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

"The trial will take place on the 18th of October," Shimeles Kemal told AFP, apologizing for earlier saying the trial would be held a day later.

Photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, both freelancers, were arrested in Ethiopia's Ogaden region on July 1 after entering the country from Somalia with the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

They were charged last month with engaging in terrorist activities, abetting an illegal terrorist group and entering the country illegally.

The journalists will hear the formal charges brought against them and will be asked to enter pleas.

"The journalists will appear with their defence council, they will be required to submit their objections to their charges if they have any ... and they will enter into a plea of guilty or not guilty," Shimeles said.

According to the press freedom watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia is one of Africa's most restrictive countries for media.

The ONLF, formed in 1984, has been fighting for the independence of the remote southeastern Ogaden, populated mainly by ethnic Somalis, which the rebels say has been marginalised by Addis Ababa.

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