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.
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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.

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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!

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