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SWEDES JAILED IN ETHIOPIA

JOURNALISTS

Swedish journos decry ‘unnecessary’ jail time

Two Swedish journalists in Ethiopia jailed on terrorism charges say they are being detained unnecessarily, one year into their 11-year sentence, Swedish diplomats said Monday.

Swedish journos decry 'unnecessary' jail time

Diplomats last week visited reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson, who have been held in an Ethiopian jail since their arrest on July 1 last year.

“I think they’re very bored but physically they’re okay, mentally they’re still okay,” Sweden’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Jens Odlander, told AFP.

“They still think they’ve been sitting there unnecessarily.”

The Swedes receive weekly visits from embassy staff and relatives fly to see them about once a month.

The journalists were arrested in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) after illegally entering from Somalia, and were sentenced in December for supporting terrorism.

Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal said the court’s decision stands and that Schibbye and Persson “went beyond what is permissible in journalist actions.”

“An independent tribunal has found them guilty…. They could make an appeal if they are aggrieved by the decision of the high court – they still have a chance to appeal and challenge that decision,” he said.

However, the pair said in January that they would not appeal the case. Under Ethiopian law, prisoners may be granted clemency and released early with an admission of guilt, but Odlander would not comment on whether they will seek a pardon.

The rebel ONLF said in a statement on Saturday that the Swedes were “political prisoners of conscience” and accused the Ethiopian government of cracking down on press freedom.

The case has drawn heavy criticism from rights groups, with Amnesty International calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the pair.

The journalists were convicted under Ethiopia’s anti-terror law, which critics have called vague and far reaching.

Last week, prominent journalist Eskinder Nega was found guilty along with 23 others on terror charges. They face life in jail.

Press watchdog Committee to Protect Journalists has said Ethiopia has one of the most restricted media in the world, with 79 journalists forced into exile since 2001.

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TERRORISM

Swede confirmed dead after Paris terror attacks

UPDATED: A Swedish citizen was among the victims of the attacks that killed more than 120 people in Paris on Friday, while another was injured, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

Swede confirmed dead after Paris terror attacks
Emergency services in Paris's 10th district on Friday night. Photo: Jacques Brinon/TT/AP

LIVE: Follow the latest developments on The Local France

More than 120 people were killed in a series of coordinated bombings and shootings across Paris on Friday, including around 100 shot dead in a bloodbath at a rock concert.

“We have information that one person of Swedish nationality was wounded by gunfire and another was killed,” said Johan Tegel, a ministry spokesman told public television in the early hours of Saturday morning.

The news was confirmed by Swedish Interior Minister Anders Ygeman, speaking to Sveriges Radio in the afternoon.

Read witness accounts of the attacks on The Local France

Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot Wallström was among the first global figureheads rushing to condemn the attacks on Friday, describing the violence as “horrible news”.

Prime Minister Stefan Löfven told a press conference just after noon on Saturday that Swedes were “grieving” for France and for the Swedish victims.

“We think of the victims and their relatives, of parents who have lost their children. One Swede is dead and we have information that another Swede has been wounded in a shooting. We are in touch with their families,” he said.

Stockholmers also joined members of the French community living in the Swedish capital and held a peaceful rally in Sergel's torg, one of the largest public squares in the city.

Horrible news from Paris tonight. Our thoughts and support goes to France and all those affected by the deadly attacks.

Meanwhile Swedish officials announced that they were stepping up security in the wake of the terror in France and ahead of Sweden's Euro 2016 qualifier against Denmark in Solna, north of Stockholm, scheduled to kick off at 8.45pm.