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Swedish journalists 'must be freed': Reinfeldt

AFP/The Local · 21 Dec 2011, 12:16

Published: 21 Dec 2011 12:16 GMT+01:00

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Freelance reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were found guilty of illegally entering Ethiopia from Somalia and of supporting rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The prosecution has called for a maximum sentence of 18 years and six months in prison. Their sentences are to be announced on December 27.

"Our position is and continues to be that they were in the country on a journalistic assignment. They must be released as soon as possible in order to be reunited with their families in Sweden," Reinfeldt said.

"The government considers today's ruling against the two Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson in Addis Ababa very serious," he added.

Reinfeldt said the government was "already making high-level contact with the Ethiopian government in this matter."

Schibbye and Persson had admitted contact with the outlawed rebel group and to entering Ethiopia illegally, but rejected terrorism charges including accusations they received weapons training.

Last month, charges of participating in terrorism were dropped for lack of evidence.

Story continues below…

The two have said they met with the ONLF for professional reasons only, as part of their investigations on the activities of Swedish oil company Lundin Oil.

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

18:08 December 21, 2011 by J Jack
OK, serious famine in Somalia, human rights violations in Ethiopia, what is Lundin Oil doing there? Why did 2 reporters need to go there to investigate? What happened to the good old Swedish discussion group? This is a kidnapping withing the Ethiopia Legal system which will be settled only by a pay off.
19:06 December 21, 2011 by Munir Ahmed
It's one thing to interview terrorists, but it's another to knowingly travel with them to document a civilian killing mission...If this was in Europe, and not Black Africa, there would've been outrage.

Ethnic Somali Ogaden (ONLF) terrorists massacres:

BBC NEWS: 74 Chinese & Ethiopian oil workers machine-gunned asleep in bed


REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped

21:54 December 21, 2011 by Truth liberates
The Ethiopian ruling party agent masquerading as Munira Ahmed,

Your criminal regime has showed the world how vile and monstrous it is. You don't even have the political acumen to see the political and human rights blunder your Government has committed.

If bona fide journalists could be subjected to such inhuman and illegal treatment, people have to realise the suffering of the Ogaden people under this colonial maniacal regime. More than 20, 000 are in illegal detention, imprisoned under these arbitrary draconian rules, with no one to account for them. The UN and ICC are aware of what is going on in Ogaden and Ethiopia, and since the culprits are not Iranians or North Koreans, they can get way with it.

All people, save the apologists of Ethiopia should condemn the heinous crime committed against Martin Schebbye and Johan Persson. The Swedish government should consider supporting the Ogaden people instead of wasting money on this dictatorial regime. Since even before the dictator came to power, the Swedish people poured millions into the coffers of this killer regime.

The only language the Ethiopian regime knows is the lash, therefore Sweden should apply it liberally. They beg and them use the the charity to hurt themselves and others.

Martin and Johan we stand by you. You are two brave young men who risked their lives to find the truth. Rest assured that those who did thsi to you will one day, very close by, pay that price thousand folds.

As for the cowards who dare try here to protect the dirty regime of Meles Zenawi, you strong man has denied the right of free speech to millions , while you want to defend him here while enjoying the free speech of Swedish Media.

Shame on you.


all shall see Human Rights Report about Ethiopia

22:15 December 21, 2011 by Exiled
It seems the rule of law has been applied as the law makers see fit, precisely the same as in Sweden.

@Truth Liberates (usually an assuage for religious confessions)

Hidden in your politics is a stark truth.

Your statement "... risked their lives to find the truth" reveals the obvious counter to your drum beat. If one accepts a risk one must also accept the consequences.
22:39 December 21, 2011 by Yasin Ahmed
Dear readers, what ever we say, the victims are Martin and Johan. We know that the Ethiopian regim is using the terrorist law to harase the nations under the Ethiopia regim. Now it exptended its crule hand to the fact finding journalist.

Just Allah will help those poor nice boys.

The oppressed nations under Ethiopian regim such as Oromos and Somalis shall be one day free
22:46 December 21, 2011 by ye_hiwot
The rule of law of the land has been settled. The outcry of extremest media group is nonsense. The verdict should be served if the court found then guilty. What next? The exemplary good historical relationship between the two nations should deserve compassion. I believe the Swedes authority will approach the matter in a wise way regardless of the noises from CPJ or 'AM'Nasty International'.
23:04 December 21, 2011 by Sverigeskompis
In my opinion, Sweden has one option to free its citizens. The Ethiopian regime is in acute need of money for its survival. Anything that brings money is acceptable to that regime so long as it can stay in power. I can mention several instances of the immoral practices of that regime on this issue (including selling food aid to buy weapons during its guerilla days while millions were dying of famine as the BBC reported recently).

A lot can be said about the economic situation of that country, how the regime is managing an elaborate Ponzi scheme to survive from day to day. Not so long ago, the prime minister of that country complained about Sweden not sending him as much aid money as he expected, for which reason he decided to downgrade the diplomatic representation. ´The whole affair we are witnessing is a god-sent prize for the regime!

If the Sweden government is willing to 'bail-out' this regime, the journalists will be free in no time. What ever the case, my sympathy goes to the journalists who are being held for ransom on bogus charges.
23:24 December 21, 2011 by be reasonable
As an Ethiopian,whether u are black or white, rich or poor its equal. Any person must respect our sovernighty and law. Clear indication of uncolonized identity!!

And one point that every one should note is that being a journalist can make any body totally free of being a terrorist.These journalists were escorted by 20 terrorists to eneter to that sovereign country with out permit.I wonder where on earth a 'peaceful journalist' needs 'a terrorist' escort.

One last point,How many of you do you know that Ethiopia is the only country in Africa which has never been colonized
03:56 December 22, 2011 by RobinHood
Sweden is going to have to pay a lot of money to bust these two "terrorists" out of jail. Meanwhile several Ethiopian politicians and militiary men are preparing their Swiss bank accounts for a large deposit. Such is life in Ethiopia.
04:12 December 22, 2011 by BBKING
May be the journalists were Ethiopians. Because we know now thanks to the prime minister of Sweden that there could be no such thing as a Swedish criminal. Let them unite with their family before Christmas. Oooooooooooh! Poor Swedes. While millions are starving in the region and the terrorists groups hampering any moves to save lives, these journalists tried to enter a sovereign nation, however poor it may be. And the PM had the guts to stand up and say that they were innocent. How shameful of him? Money is not the solution here. The solution should be that Reinfeldt needs to apologize for his arrogance first and then try to understand it in such a manner as what if it was Ethiopian journalists that entered Sweden lets say through Norway?

Doesn't the position for a prime minister in Sweden require a minimum IQ level?
09:50 December 22, 2011 by Kevin Harris
@ BB

Speaking of IQ, please pay attention BB. As well as being quite properly convicted of entering Ethiopia illegally, they were also convicted of very serious terrorism offences. Do you really think these two journalists are terrorists? No one else does!
12:18 December 22, 2011 by Munir Ahmed
BIG HYPOCRISY...What about the thousands of Black Africans languishing in Swedish immigration prisons, hmmm???
04:15 December 26, 2011 by BBKING
@Kevin Harris They were found WITH terrorists HOLDING GUNS in a government military raid. I am sure for any sensible person a Swedish terrorist may seem rather unpalatable. But who says Scandinavians are not capable of terrorism for that matter? A recent reminder of the Norwegian terrorist, claimed unstable for very obvious reasons as just another white boy who's gone mad, is a prime example for this.

Kevin your interest is not in the rule of law but rather you seem to find it unusual for Swedes to get along with terrorists. Now I think you can answer the questions you asked me.
22:24 December 27, 2011 by Geele
This verdict shows that how the Ethiopian people were left under the mercy of brutal regime. Ironically this regime uses western aide as a tool to silence freedom and democracy activists

Dealing with Meles Zinawi and dealing with Omar Al Bashir is the same we should work hard to bring the Ethiopian tyrant to the international criminal court

Free the journalists

Stop helping this tyranny
01:27 December 28, 2011 by BBKING
@ Geele Oh now they are activists then. Do activists travel with guerrilla fighters who the government labelled as a terrorist organization? Does being a journalist acquit you from ever being a criminal? We are not talking about individuals here we are talking about respect for a nations rule of law.

Is being a journalist a precondition for acquittal? That may be a lesson for all criminals to take on journalism classes as a part time endevour.
11:06 December 29, 2011 by Munir Ahmed

Mr. Schibbey used to be the editor for the magazine "Rebell", the official paper of "RKU", Sweden's Revolutionary Communist Party's youth organisation. Communism á la Marxism Leninism.

Mr. Schibbey and his comrades declared that Sweden only can be reformed by revolution, armed revolution if necessary, and that Stalin's murderous campaigns, terrors equalling Hitler's, were mere fabrications of the ruling class and thus untrue.

As for the concept of democracy, Mr. Schibbey and "RKU" proclaimed that the dictatorship of the proletariat is the ultimate form of democracy.

Obviously Mr. Schibbey deserves a fair trial; nonetheless it seems ironic that Mr. Schibbey now is on the receiving end of a totalitarian Marxist Leninist state's legal system.
09:55 January 8, 2012 by BBKING
Thumbs up! Munir
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