“Our message that the Swedes should be freed immediately will be conveyed by commissioner Andris Piebalg,” said Maja Kocilancic, spokesperson for Catherine Ashton to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN)
“It is the same that we said in our statement after the verdict – that the Swedes should be released at once.”
Piebalgs will be meeting Zenawi during the two closing days of the African Union summit meeting, which was opened in Addis Ababa on Monday.
Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt’s right hand man, Frank Belfrage, will also be attending the meeting but the ministry was not willing to disclose whether Belfrage will broach the subject with the Ethiopians.
“Work is being carried out. But we will not elaborate on the talks that we are conducting,” said ministry spokesperson Anders Jörle to DN.
However, there are still differing opinions on whether putting pressure on the Ethiopian government may have the opposite effect and be detrimental to the Swedes.
According to DN, a government-produced film about the case of the two Swedes was shown on state TV in Ethiopia, in which the regime defended its right to convict foreign journalists in contact with terrorist groups like the ONLF.
Among other things, the film featured prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt’s demand to release Schibbye and Persson, which was called “indirect colonialism” by the country’s ministry for communications, reports the paper.
In the film, a spokesperson from the Ethiopian foreign ministry made it clear that he government has no intention to fold to pressure from the west, according to DN.