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Bildt in surprise meeting with jailed journos

11 May 2012, 10:15

Published: 11 May 2012 10:15 GMT+02:00

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Bildt met on Friday morning with Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, the two Swedish journalists who were convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2011 for supporting terrorism and entering the country illegally.

"We basically had a very good conversation. The conditions are tough, but they're doing well under the circumstances," Bildt told the TT news agency after the meeting.

"They insisted that news of my visit should come out. They see it as a signal of strong support for them both in Sweden and in Ethiopia."

The meeting lasted about an hour and took place in the office of the prison director where the two Swedish journalists are being held.

According to Bildt, the meeting was a surprise for the Swedes because they didn't know he was in the country.

Bildt was in Ethiopia attending a World Economic Forum on Africa meeting, and while Persson and Schibbye watched some of the proceedings on television, they hadn't seen any Swedish representatives among the conference participants.

According to Bildt, his participation in the meeting was simply a pretext to secure a meeting with prime minister Zenawi.

Despite Bildt's request for a meeting being issued on somewhat short notice, the two did hold a meeting on Thursday during which they discussed the case of the imprisoned Swedes.

"It was clear it was a priority for him to meet me in front of the other African leaders," Bildt told TT.

Bildt explained that the meeting with Zenawi was meant to "establish a good relationship".

"A good relationship is a precondition for a good solution," he said.

During the meeting with the Ethiopian leader, Bildt once again emphasized Sweden's position on the case of Persson and Schibbye but didn't present any new requests.

Story continues below…

He also refused to speculate on when or whether a request for a pardon would be filed on behalf of the two Swedes, nor on when they might eventually be released.

"I don't dare speculate. I don't think that would be wise," he said.

TT/The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

11:14 May 11, 2012 by truthworthy
Bildt's weakness is why these journalists are in jail. Ethiopia is under dictatorship that does not respect human rights or press freedom. Sweden should have used all the power of the European Union to pressure the Zenawi regime to free the journalists. We know how much Ethiopia needs EU support.

Shame on Bildt and the government of Sweden for showing such weakness in the face of brutal dictatorship that starves its own people.
12:21 May 11, 2012 by kenai
I WARN SWEDEN, a lot of criminals and desperate people from Romania and a lot of gipsy people will for sure enter in Sweden as EU members and steal and rape as much as they can, just like they are already doin in Italy, this is Important, Sweden must close the borders and send back all the immigrants from this nation, here in Italy it's impossible to live anymore, and in Sweden, where all poeple trust each other, and where all doors are open and all houses have no security at all, it gonna be even worse, this people will end the life as we know it.



17:34 May 11, 2012 by G Kin

Are you sure you are commenting under the correct article?...


Bildt was their under false pretence and expect the prime minister to believe and trust him?. Oh great!. Typical pretentious swede....

Europeans like to hold power over weaker nations yet they are not honest in their dealings with them. The very Lundin Oil that the journalists went to investigate operates with the backing of the swedish embassy in that country yet you think it is only the prime minister that is the bad guy. Another double standard.

The power structures around the world are changing as new players appear. These countries are turning more and more towards China.
06:34 July 2, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
"...Persson and Schibbye watched some of the proceedings on television..."


That's considered tough conditions?

That's a lot better than immigrants rotting in Swedish prisons for years.

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