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.
x
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6588055.stm

REUTERS NEWS: UN workers ambushed, killed, kidnapped

http://af.reuters.com/article/ethiopiaNews/idAFLDE74D0CU20110514
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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs