News / Africa

Swedish Journalists to Stand Trial in Ethiopia for Terrorism

Two Swedish journalists charged with terrorism go on trial Tuesday in Ethiopia's capital. Press freedom groups and Sweden’s Foreign Ministry are watching the case closely.

Swedish freelance journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested in July in Ethiopia’s restive Ogaden region in the company of rebels fighting for regional autonomy.

Government spokesman Shimeles Kemal told VOA by phone that the journalists were charged under a new anti-terrorism law that names the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front as a terrorist group.

“The charge states that the journalists, in violation of the anti-terrorist law, have intentionally tried to assist and promote the causes of terrorism,” said Shimeles.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Meles Zenawi told a Norwegian newspaper the accused were not being accused as journalists. He said they were “at the very least, the messenger boys of a terrorist organization."

Spokesman Shimeles, a former government prosecutor, said the two Swedes are alleged to have been carrying weapons, and were captured after a gun battle.

“The prosecution proposes to adduce evidence showing their involvement with the terrorist organization, including video evidence showing they were carrying arms," said Shimeles. "It is to be recalled that they have been captured together with wounded terrorists in a conflict where a number of terrorists accompanying them were killed.”

The case has drawn wide interest from media freedom groups. The Committee to Protect Journalists issued a statement saying the government had compromised the journalists’ right of presumption of innocence by portraying them in the media as accomplices to terrorists.

The trial is also being closely followed in Sweden, where Foreign Minister Carl Bildt has called on Ethiopia to release the two journalists.  Bildt, who has been criticized for his handling of the case, has sent a senior adviser to monitor the proceedings.

In a telephone interview, Sweden’s ambassador to Ethiopia, Jens Odlander, said his government is questioning the terrorism charges.

“We have no reason to doubt they are bona fide journalists and that they are now brought under terrorism charges. But tomorrow the legal process will start and we’re going to see. It’s the first preliminary hearing and we’re going to hear what the judges will say also,” said Odlander.

Odlander has been meeting the journalists regularly since their arrest, and said they are in “pretty good” shape, and eager to have their case heard.

The two Swedes are among more than 150 people, mostly journalists and opposition supporters, who have been arrested since May on suspicion of involvement with groups outlawed under the anti-terrorism act.

Rights groups and legal experts have described the law as vague and open to abuse. Spokesman Shimeles said the arrests have been instrumental in foiling possible terrorist attacks.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid