Ethiopia May Grant Clemency to Two Swedish Journalists

The two Swedish journalists, photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye, are serving 11-year sentences in Ethiopia.

Tadias Magazine
News Update

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New York – Ethiopia has signaled it may grant clemency to journalists convicted under the country’s controversial anti-terrorism law.

“Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said on Wednesday Ethiopia could pardon politicians and journalists arrested under a 2009 anti-terrorism law, but dismissed opposition criticism he was using the law to clamp down on dissent,” Reuters reported. “Rights groups say the government has used the law to crack down on its opponents, saying 150 opposition politicians and supporters have been detained under its provisions in the past three years.”

“All trials are transparent, all suspects are allowed access to lawyers and some have even been freed when no evidence was found to justify their arrests,” Meles said. “But we would also consider granting clemency if culprits admit guilt and to making mistakes.”

Ten journalists are among those charged under the anti-terrorism law. And regarding the case of reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson of Sweden, the prime minister compared the case to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. scandal in England. “Phone-tapping is criminal enough to have journalists stand trial, let alone aiding a terrorist group and entering a country illegally, he said. “No journalist can escape charges if rules are broken.”

Persson and Schibbye were accused of supporting a terrorist group and also charged with immigration violations. They were arrested in July after being caught with fighters from an Ogaden National Liberation Front. They had pleaded not guilty to the terror charges, but admitted entering the country illegally from Somalia.

The reporters say their investigation was focused on Sweden’s Lundin Petroleum and an oil company in Ethiopia that bought licences from Lundin in 2009 to operate in Ethiopia’s rebellious Ogaden region.

“Rights groups have called for their release and Sweden, the European Union and United States have expressed concern. The two Swedes are seeking clemency rather than lodging an appeal, in the hope of securing a quicker release.”


1 Response to “Ethiopia May Grant Clemency to Two Swedish Journalists”

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