News / Africa

Ethiopia Pardons Two Swedish Journalists

Ethiopia's Minister of Justice, unseen, reads aloud from a document appearing to be a petition for mercy by two Swedish journalists who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.Ethiopia's Minister of Justice, unseen, reads aloud from a document appearing to be a petition for mercy by two Swedish journalists who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.
Ethiopia's Minister of Justice, unseen, reads aloud from a document appearing to be a petition for mercy by two Swedish journalists who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.
Ethiopia's Minister of Justice, unseen, reads aloud from a document appearing to be a petition for mercy by two Swedish journalists who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia, Monday, Sept. 10, 2012.
ADDIS ABABA — Two Swedish journalists imprisoned on terrorism charges in Ethiopia have received an official pardon.  The pardon is part of the yearly mass amnesty for prisoners.
Journalist Martin Schibbey and photographer Johan Persson are among the 1,900 prisoners that were granted pardon this year.  The Swedes were convicted of supporting an illegal terrorist group and trespassing the Ethiopian border without documents.  Both were sentenced to 11 years in prison.
The journalists requested a state pardon through a letter in which they admitted to collaboration with the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front - something they had denied during their trial.

Ethiopian minister of Justice Berhan Hailu read out parts of the letter.
“We both fully recognize the crimes against the Ethiopian constitution," Berhan said. "We both admit our wrongdoing in collaborating with members of the ONLF terrorist organization.  We allowed ourselves to be used and misled by the ONLF.  We full confess our crimes, and hereby ask your Excellency and the government and people of Ethiopia to accept our unconditional apology."
Pardoning of prisoners is a yearly tradition that falls together with Ethiopia's New Year.  The Horn of Africa country celebrates New Year's day on September 11th because of their calendar.
The pardoning of the two journalists was approved by late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who passed away in August.  

International press-freedom and human-rights groups often accuse Ethiopia of suppressing dissident voices.  Berhan says the decision to pardon the two Swedish journalists has nothing to do with international pressure, but with the interests of the country.

“The very objective of pardon is to maintain and keep the interest(s) of the public and the government," Berhan said. "If the interest(s) of the government and the public is maintained, we do not have any problem to do anything."  
The journalists have not been released yet, according to the minister.  He says once they are freed, they will immediately go back to Sweden.

“According to the law of the land, they have to go to their country as soon as possible, so within 24 hours," Berhan said.
The two journalists were arrested in July 2011 when they were captured crossing the border illegally with ONLF members.  The Ogaden National Liberation Front is fighting for greater autonomy in Ethiopia's Somali federal state and is labeled a terrorist organization by the government.
Ethiopia began peace negotiations with the Ogaden National Liberation Front last week in Kenya in an attempt to end the 28-year insurgency.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Truth-Teller from: Addis Ababa
September 12, 2012 11:21 AM
'Ethiopia's terror group (a.k.a. EPRDF) freed kidnapped Journalist': best fits the title of this article. This country's #1 in Africa: by jailing the most number of journalist - in one hand, and receiving the most foreign AID from U.S. and U.K - on the other ....

Bravo! Westerners, you got what you paid for. You see?! ... you could have been better off if you simply stick to your "Moral Values" (Democracy, Human Rights, Individual Liberty ... and all the good stuff) and stay way from all that junk you call "national Interest"!! .... Your Moral Values will always defend your national interests, no dought!!

by: Annie voir from: liberia west Africa
September 11, 2012 1:07 PM
This is a very good step for this goverment they will get a plus for that.

by: FYI from: Harar
September 10, 2012 9:22 PM
Each time one ONLF leadership signs peace treaty, another group is financed by Eritrea to start terrorist activities...

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

REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped
In Response

by: Laamalooshe from: London
September 11, 2012 6:28 AM
Degrading human beings in such a way is the hall mark of the ruthless Ethiopian regime.If they can do this to two European journalists who have the full backing and protection of the EU and their country, imagine the poor stateless Somalis in Ogaden who are under their rule. This is a clear evidence that the Ethiopian government is violating the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that no one shall be subjected to degrading treatment.

The Ethiopian government abuse of the Human rights of the Somali people in Ogaden is well documented. The American people fought against Britain and were not terrorists. the Ogaden people have a right to fight for their freedom against Ethiopia and they are not terrorists. Calling ONLF terrorist is tantamount to calling George Washington and the founders of USA terrorists!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs