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'They were the longest days of our lives'

The Local · 14 Sep 2012, 17:15

Published: 14 Sep 2012 17:15 GMT+02:00

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“It’s crowded here, just like when we were in prison – so it feels just like home,” Schibbye joked after arriving at the press conference on Friday afternoon.

Schibbye explained to the gathered media that the job for the pair now was to tell the world about their ordeal and the continuing problems facing other prisoners in the same situation.

“When we walked out through the gates on Monday another prisoner got up and took hold of me and said ‘Martin and Johan, promise, tell the world what you have seen’. That work begins today and it’s going to continue as long as we live,” he said.

The pair explained that it was an “international scandal” that they had been sentenced to 11 years of prison for what they described as simply “doing their job”.

When asked if it was all worth it, Persson responded:

“Those who have suffered the most are our relatives. We have had a terrible conscience for putting them through this. Our relatives have sat at home feeling awful for a year. So has it been worth it? That’s a tough question.”

Schibbye and Persson told of long days being held in the desert, in which each of them was shot by their captors.

“They were the longest days of our lives,” Schibbye said.

The pair also explained how they had kept the details about their mock executions quiet as they didn’t want to damage their chances of being pardoned.

The Swedes, who explained they would be writing a book about the affair, also denied that they were in Ethiopia to report on Carl Bildt’s involvement with Lundin Oil.

“Our report was to be about how an oil company was acting and not acting. We didn’t go there to write crap about Bildt,” said Persson, adding however that the Swedish government’s influence in their ordeal wouldn’t be discussed.

“It’s too early to say exactly what the government has or hasn’t done for us.”

The pair explained of the tough conditions in the prison, and how they constantly talked to one another and other prisoners, often secretly, in order to remain sane and healthy.

The two explained that their apology on Ethiopian television was insincere but necessary for freedom, stating that they had two choices: “to sit there for eleven years and die or to do this. We chose this.”

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

Story continues below…

The two had reportedly entered Ethiopia to investigate the activities of a company affiliated with the Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum.

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.

The pair was pardoned on Monday in connection with the Ethiopian New Year, when the country traditionally pardons prisoners.

TT/The Local/og

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Your comments about this article

18:39 September 14, 2012 by themoron
themoron says:

The pair did something very wrong and thought they would not be caught. Entering a country without illegally and then joining a guerrilla that is trying to destroy that country, whether corrupted or not,, is eomething that it should have been punished harder than the 11 year sentence they got.

They should be thankful to the Ethiopian government that pardoned them snd they should close their mouths once and for all.

Now they are playing the "heroes" roll and the Swedish media are using them to sell more copies. Especially the tabloids like the Wxpressen and Aftonbladet.

Why do they not enter ilegally tha Guantanamo base and write things about how is to be jailed there without a trial for years and years? The Americans will provide them with a visa and install them in a big, big cell full of computers and technological equipment so they can please their Swedish audience.

Some people's children.
19:44 September 14, 2012 by johan rebel
Imbecile amateurs. They should have been left to rot in an Ethiopian jail for the full 11 years.

If you want to play at being journalist in a place at the Ogaden you had better know what you are doing and be 100% professional about it.
20:14 September 14, 2012 by FutureHuman
Now they will get more money and more fame than what they would have gotten if they were not caught. So the whole think was really a win-win for them. It makes me sick.
20:55 September 14, 2012 by Swissbank
Simply doing ur job hahaha.

I did not know it is a Sweden thing to carry, Kalashnikov AK-47 GUN..

I also I don't know it is Sweden thing as long as u are journalist u don't need visa to enter any Africa countries. 
22:01 September 14, 2012 by BBKING
"Sit there for eleven years and die" I just wish they did that. These impostors will be asked in the future and when the truth comes out Swedes will be ashamed of two of their own. You should listen to your foreign minister more than this adventurous thugs. They sought fame and they got it at the expense of millions of Ethiopians and abusing their tradition of pardon above and over disrespecting a countries immigration laws. I reside in Sweden and I never thought Swedes are capable of lying to their teeth.
01:08 September 15, 2012 by Munir Ahmed
History of Somali-Ogaden terrorists the leftist Swedish reporters championed as freedom fighters and hired as guides for illegal border crossing:

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


REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped

01:10 September 15, 2012 by Mr Personality
This is the kind of enemy Ethiopian journalists face each day. An enemy that considered lying to be the norm. In fact they got this treatment with consideration of not antagonizing Swedish government over the issue. Consider what the Ethiopian government will do when they have no body else to think of, when it is their own citizen.

Some of you may wonder why are these other comments pissed off. These guys are telling the truth. Yes the guys are paid government agents and there are a lot of them who sit and do this so that they confuse the world. By the way I am an Ethiopian, and I can not wait for my country to be free, for when our citizens can say the truth anywhere and not have to worry that their own government will abuse them
01:55 September 15, 2012 by BlackLion
@ Mr Personality.

I am, an Ethiopian too - a very proud Ethiopian who wants more press freedom and more functioning democracy and rule of law and accountability in the country.

And , hell, no - I ain't a government supporter at all. Neither am I a blind opponent though! But my opposition to the government didn't blind my eyes from seeing the dangers these guys were up to i.e. promoting tribal secessionists. If you want to have a country tomorrow, you should be worried about those kind of people. We have other journalists in Ethiopia in prison like Nega and Alemu - they have to be out and be writing - but they are struggling for press freedom and democracy in the country - not promoting secession!!! There is a clear distinction!

Check these map below - Africa is facing separatist wars all over . . .


If western journalists start to promote all sorts of separatist wars, Africa is gonna be on fire for another century. That is the problem. Why don't our brothers in Sweden understand that?
03:34 September 17, 2012 by cleanslate
Either all of you guys here are stupid or are some kind of government sympathizers,

For the people who are worried about Ethiopia's unity: we have seen during our 30 years of civil war that you can't have unity by force. everybody shouldn't forget that the now government EPRDF during their guerrilla times as TPLF with Shabiya , there aim was to for secession from Ethiopia and they had countless BBC and other western journalists broadcasting from their side, without any visa from the then Ethiopian govenment, its so easy to forget what the did now that they have power, but all that is happening to them now is what they did to the then Ethiopian government Dergue, so its a vicious circle, as long as Ethiopians don't learn to solve their jproblems peacefully everybody will follow the destructive way, and to say that ONLF's are terrorists now is the same story as Derg was saying TPLF were terrorists for the external world. So get down from your cloud 9 and really understand what the Somali people of Ethiopia want, actually what all the people in Ethiopia want, a happy society wouldn't just for fun want to go independent, find out what you are doing wrong and fix it. For the Swedes who are insulting these brave journalists from the warmth of your home SHAME ON YOU. it's your an unaccounted for aid that is hurting our people, damn right its not going to the people, tell me just how is it possible a group of guerrilla fighters (the now Ethiopian government officials) manage to have a multi-billion dollar conglomerate? Please don't tell me from their salaries, because their official salary is peanuts compared to what they own. Well Europe is in recession if your aid money is not going to help the poor in Africa, wouldn't it be better if you spend it on your own economy then help African people get repressed by dictatorial regimes? All the Ethiopians commenting here against the journalists without a doubt are the ruling party supporters, and I have no doubt that they have people sifting through all Ethiopia related news to comment positive stuff about TPLF. Just like Assad does in Syria's case. Time is up guys you are just like Derg, you forgot why you came to power, and you are doing all the same stuff. your mass murders in Somali and Gambella region is all going to come out, and Meles is the lucky one, cause nobody is going to confront him now, but you guys ... watch and see this space.. Murderers!
03:44 September 19, 2012 by Swissbank
@dr. berhanu nega


Re:- Ethiopian government paid comment-ers, 


what is Ur solution Mr.? Banned all "Ethio-Govt.commenter" and ask the same Government to allow unrestricted access to Sweden reporter.. Guess what freedom of speech cut both way.


Re:- TPLF there aim was to for secession from Ethiopia and about BBC reporter 


This question Is Twisted but I will answer 

This like saying why ONLF's Didn't arrest the Sweden Reporter. It is the job of Meles to arrest the Sweden reporter. On the same token it was Derg job to arrest the bbc reporter not Meles.


Re:-  TPLF were terrorists for the external world


Different World and different TIME. Today no one support so called "freedom fighter" using terrorist act to achieved their political goal.. U like it or not ONLF believe in terrorist act to achieved their goal... The proof is  Chinese and Ethiopia oil drilling worker who killed by ONLF while they were sleeping... Go ask the south sudan.. They benefited from oil drilling investment done by the north Sudan...had they destroyed the oil company by now they would have been  bankrupt nation.

In today Ethiopia OLF and ONLF have political space where u can fight for ur right up to separation... 


Re:- how TPLF manage to have a multi-billion dollar conglomerate? 


I know ur line of thinking rooted from Derg era.. Derg used to say all rich people get their wealth by exploitation, by  cheating, by corrupt method but not hard work and working smart.

Again it is twisted logic but I will answer it. TPLF during war time have almost 100,000 armies..now this army must eat, get health care. And buy war machinery.. In short to run this company u need money.. So after war they have this asset that they can use for peaceful investment.

In fact it easy to start multi-billion dollar conglomerate..   In American in Dc alone their are 100,000 Ethiopians. Now late them invest only 1000dollar for one time..this alone generate 100 million dollar company. Second hire top CEO with not time u can have billion dollars company's.

It seems that u are  surprise so late me give u few individual billion dollar company sunshine realty, Access bank,  habesha construction etc etc

Ethiopia economy is what china is 30 years ago. 30 years if someone advice u invest in china u would think he/ she is crazy.

Unlike china Ethiopia have many advantage cost of transportation is lower because the market (the whole oil rich middle east)next door.

A live stock from Australia take 30 day to reach middle east.. Now beside the cost of transportation u have to add free ding the live stock for next 30 day at sea. The same story's checke from brazil.

I wish Sweden help us make peace with ONLF then pouring gas on fire it would be win win for everyone involved..  

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