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Swedish journos' families wary of pardon claims

10 Sep 2012, 14:10

Published: 10 Sep 2012 11:29 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Sep 2012 14:10 GMT+02:00

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Freelance reporters Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested in Ethiopia's Ogaden region last year in the company of what the government says were rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The pair was detained after illegally crossing the border from Somalia, and after a long and controversial trial were jailed for 11 years by an Ethiopian court in December 2011, having been found guilty of supporting terrorism and entering the country illegally.

Ethiopia has a tradition of pardoning some prisoners in connection with the Ethiopian new year, which this year falls on Tuesday, September 11th.

Citing an anonymous government source, the Reuters news agency reported on Monday that Schibbye and Persson were among those to be pardoned.

However, the Swedish foreign ministry has yet to confirm the news.

"I don't have any such information," ministry spokesperson Camilla Åkesson Lindblom told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

Speaking with the Expressen newspaper, Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt also refused to comment on the Reuters report.

"I have nothing to say until there is something to say," he said.

Schibbye's wife Linnea also tempered her enthusiasm over the report that her husband had been pardoned by authorities in Ethiopia.

"I want to have a better source than a Reuters journalist. There have been lots of wild speculations and I'm going to wait before commenting," she told the TT news agency.

Persson's father Kjell was also slow to sound a triumphant note on the chances that his son could soon return to Sweden.

"I've read the latest from Reuters, but I don't want to comment before they are out of the country," he told TT.

Following their conviction, the two Swedish journalists opted not to appeal the guilty verdict, putting their hopes in a pardon.

"There is a tradition of pardon and forgiveness in Ethiopia and we choose to put our trust in this tradition,” Schibbye and Persson said in a short statement after reaching their decision in January.

The death of Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in August prompted some experts to warn that the Swedes' pardoning process could be delayed by a change in leadership in the east African country.

Story continues below…

“It is too early to say if this will complicate the process indefinitely, but in principle that isn’t likely. Whoever gets appointed PM will sooner or later have to find a solution as Ethiopia is under significant international pressure to free the jailed Swedes,” Norwegian Ethiopia expert Kjetil Tronvoll told The Local at the time.

At the weekend, Sveriges Television (SVT) reported that approximately 1,900 were set to be pardoned by Ethiopia and that the Swedes would "likely" be on the list.

On Monday, the Ethiopian ministry of justice has called a press conference scheduled for 4pm Swedish time during which it is expected that official news about any pardons will be released.

The Local/dl

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Your comments about this article

13:46 September 10, 2012 by G Kin
OK. But have they served at least a year behind bars?. No preferential treatment cos they are Swedes/westerners.
13:51 September 10, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

Good for them. They have had a year to plan how to help the Syrians rebels, sponsored by any of the two top class tabloids in Sweden, Expressen or Aftonbladet and sanctioned by Sweden's Foreign Relations Minister, Carl Bildt.

O.K. That is what I heard. Do not blame me. But when the river sounds, is because it carries water.
14:15 September 10, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
Like clockwork, and as I stated weeks ago, the illegal border crossing Swedes got released in less than two years......But hey would've been released within a few days of arrest, were it not for opportunistic Western leftist reporters badmouthing Ethiopian government for arresting White people.

Resume of Somali-Ogaden terrorists Swedes called freedom fighters:

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


REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped

14:26 September 10, 2012 by thelionking
I wonder if the world has forgotten of that dark Swedish fellow Dawit Isaak locked up since ONLY 2001!!
14:49 September 10, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

No. Sweden has forgotten about Isaak. They have now the two in Ethiopia to write about. It is only a matter of selling copies.
15:27 September 10, 2012 by byke
I wonder how these convicted terrorists will be treated when they arrive back in Sweden? national heroes?

Will they serve the rest of their sentences in a swedish jail?

Or simply be used as political pawns in a game of propaganda?

As for Dawit, if you go to a country and commit a crime .... then you have to expect to be treated in the same manner as those inside the country. Holding asylum or a foreign passport doesnt give you diplomatic immunity - as we have seen by Swedens pursuit of Julian Assange.
15:30 September 10, 2012 by refugee
melse selemote new weyse kdeme belo yetwesene ngre new .. enzhe necha chebawochene eko mene eyadrgu endehone ayetawekeme .... yegremale ..

meftate alenbrebachweme .. yemene yekrta new hezbune eyafajute eza hadewe mesarya endeshetelachew ... aye ye afrca hezebe new yemasazenagne ena .. alemaweke eko new enante hoya yemchawetubne .. aweke yetebalweme le hodu yezbune tekeme asalfo yesetale ...
15:46 September 10, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

# 7

I fully agree with you.

And now, let's wait for the breaking news coming from Aleppo: Swedes joining the "freedom" fighters. Swedes learning how to use NATO's weapons. Swedes wearing "Down with Assad" T-Shirts. We shall see, what we shall see.
15:50 September 10, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
Refugee, it's because Meles had earlier signed their release for upcoming Ethiopian New Year, along with 1900 other prisoners.

Esrenoch le'addis amet meftat kediro jemero yeneber bahel new.
16:35 September 10, 2012 by h2m
It is always dictators manner to put on past atrocities, mistakes on the shoulder of the deceased. i will not be surprise if the message here is that D is dead and all political detainees wil be free including the swes. On top of that yesterday the govenment has started with same Ogaden rebels. what a political mesage: balim Meles zenawi for all he is dead
16:51 September 10, 2012 by tedd09y
yekereta bahelachen new enkuwan tefetu men they paid it dearly...They will learn to respect one's country sovernieghty from now on ...Good lesson !
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