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Swedish journalists deny backing rebel group

AFP/The Local · 1 Nov 2011, 12:50

Published: 01 Nov 2011 12:50 GMT+01:00

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Police inspector Mohamed Ahmed told the court that the accused, photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, told him they came to Ethiopia to support the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels.

"They told us that they came to organize and train the ONLF," Mohamed told the court in the Ethiopian capital through a translator.

When asked if this was true, Schibbye shook his head and told reporters "no."

The Swedes were charged last month with engaging in terrorist activities, aiding and abetting a terrorist group, and entering the country illegally.

Last month, both Persson and Schibbye pleaded not guilty to the charges of terrorism, though they admitted entering the country illegally.

Mohamed also described the arrest of the Swedish journalists, who were detained after entering the country from Somalia on July 1.

He said the Swedes' car was spotted in the middle of the night some 90 kilometres from the Somali border.

Police claim to have tracked the pair -- who were travelling with 13 gunmen accused of being rebel soldiers -- for 11 hours when fighting broke out.

"The two foreigners were guarded by ONLF members and the foreigners were shot by their own guards," Mohamed said.

He added that the Swedish journalists were not armed, but were instead found carrying two cameras, mobile phones, and passports.

When caught by police, Persson wore just one shoe and his shirt was "soaked in blood," according to the witness.

Story continues below…

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 marginalized by Addis Ababa.

The Swedes are charged with two Somalis of Ethiopian ethnicity, accused of being ONLF members, who have also pleaded not guilty.

The trial is expected to last six months, according to legal sources.

Rights groups have criticised the process after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said in an interview last month that the Swedes were "at the very least messenger boys of a terrorist organisation."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

13:11 November 1, 2011 by RobinHood
Police inspector Mohammed Ahmed would never tell a lie. If he says the two journalists were in Ethiopia to organise and train terrorists, then it must be true.

Anyone who says different will soon be seeing the business end of the good police inspectors cattle prod.
21:02 November 1, 2011 by moali
RobinHood, you´re a Tigrey the same tribe of the Ethiopian tyrant Meles Zenawi that´s why you´re defending the Ethiopian regime. There´s no real Police inspectors in Ethiopia ! The fake court forced him to say whatever they want.

The Meles regime is done, soon or later he´ll be like Gaddafi !
00:00 November 2, 2011 by Nuradin
Officially the two Swedish journalists are charged with as the Local.se report correctly sums up : "...with engaging in terrorist activities, aiding and abetting a terrorist group, and entering the country illegally."

The journalists deny the first two and admit the last one.

On their part, the junta that rules Ethiopia - the TPLF - has upped the ante on Sweden by bringing to their kangaroo court a so-called 'Police Inspector' who wildly claims, the journalists came to the Ethiopia "to organize and train the ONLF."

It seems now the charge sheet contains another accusation which is that of training the ONLF. From this we can infer that the outcome of the case is already a foregone conclusion: the sentencing is already concluded; the court proceedings are only bureaucratic procedure. Sweden must not wait for the outcome of this farcical trIal. This is a political issue that demands political intervention,and not a legal process which have no legitimacy and fairness whatsoever.

Finally, I would not be surprised if the Ethiopian regime adds another charge on the accusation sheet of the Swedish journalists and claim 'the journalists were planning to assassinate the Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi'. Ridiculousness as it sounds, however, expect the unexpected from the mad man who rules Ethiopia. After all he is one who came to the conclusion, "at the very least messenger boys of a terrorist organisation."

Meles Zenawi's verdict is already known through his utterings. The question is: what is Sweden doing about it? Quite diplomacy does not work in this kind of atmosphere with that kind of lunatic. He understands power. Sweden must assert its power and influence in the region in every way possible to release the journalists.

With Carl Bilt at the helm in the Foreign Ministry, I don't know how Sweden can do that.
08:12 November 2, 2011 by mztp
the above two commentors are desperate eretrians who are allowance seekers waiting the descion for their assylum case. Its only eretrians mind who belive force can change anything as they witnessed it when they were kicked by ethiopian force in evry war they started, as well as it is a way of life that ISAYAS AFEWORKI showed them with his iron and fist leading for the past 20 years. Under his excellency leadership Ethiopia witnessed a remarkabele growth never showed in her 3000 yrs. Txs for him100% of ethiopian have acess to primary education, a significant number of ethiopians are in secondary and universities. Road and other construction are booming. Ethiopia have started exporting energy to neigbouring countries. According to recent UN publication Ethiopia is one of the four countries expected to fulfil the mellinum development goal by 2015. Asignificant progress in human right and democracy as well. We all ethiopians are with him. Its my belive the journalist will soon join their family. God bless the brother peole ETHIO SWED.
10:30 November 2, 2011 by RobinHood

I am not a Tigrey, until you explained it, I did not know what a Tigrey was.

I wrote my post #1 in a spirit of irony; I thought the reference to the cattle prod made that clear. Yes of course the police inspector is not telling the truth. Mr Mohammed Ahmed is probably a senior member of the Ethiopian security forces posing as a police inspector. If it served his purposes, he would have testified that the journalists had confessed to being witches, or having murdered Abraham Lincoln.
13:58 November 2, 2011 by Munir Ahmed

What about countless Black Africans rotting in Swedish immigration prisons today?

Ogaden (ONLF) Islamic terrorist cold-blooded massacre record, ignored by $$$ hungry Swedish reporters, and rest of White media...Racist double standard.




20:50 November 2, 2011 by kynan
When Meles Zenawi was leader of the Trojan horse known as TPLF, he used to invite journalists from the West, notably from UK, to report on alleged Ethiopian government atrocities. The journalists had neither the knowledge nor the willingness to train rebels in armed combat. Now, Meles turns the tables upside down, and accuses the Swedish journalists of crimes to train the Ogaden rebels. Could there be an insult to human conscience worse than this?
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