Ethiopia pardons 2 Swedish journalists who have been in jail for alleged terrorism

September 10th, 2012 Print Print Email Email

Two Swedish journalists who have been imprisoned in Ethiopia for more than a year have been pardoned and are set to be freed at an upcoming mass amnesty ceremony, a top government official said Monday.

The decision to pardon photographer Johan Persson and reporter Martin Schibbye had been approved by the late Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the official said, requesting anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge this information ahead of the event.

The official said the journalists have shown remorse and have asked for a pardon.

“Considering their request for pardon and the fact that they demonstrated a good behavior while serving their sentence, the government under the Prime Minister Meles had accepted their pardon request. It was never an intention of the government to see them languish in jail.”

The Ethiopian government has over the years released hundreds of prisoners in a ceremony timed to coincide with the start of the new year according to Ethiopia’s calendar.

Persson and Schibbye have been in jail since July 2011, when they were arrested while trying to cross from Somalia into Ethiopia along with fighters from the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front, which Ethiopia classifies as a terrorist group.

Last December the journalists were sentenced to 11 years for abetting terrorism and entering the country illegally. They denied the terror charges, saying they were in Ethiopia simply to do their work as journalists. Their jailing was condemned by rights watchdogs such as the Committee to Protect Journalists, which said their trial was “an affront to justice and press freedom.”

The journalists are likely to be released this week, the government official said.

  1. Tekle
    | #1

    I expect the best book out of their ordeal – Meles died and still refered as ‘government under Meles’? – Dead man ruling and dead man pardoning? Oh Ethiopia, when is the time we be governed by law?

  2. Tibebe Samuel
    | #2

    If this is true, the government should be encouraged to do more. It is time to release all political prisoners and to engage in all inclusive political discourse. Whatever the underlining reason, it is encouraging news. The new leadership should take a new path for a better future.

  3. Gigi
    | #3

    GREAT NEWS! THANKS HAYILEMARIAM! THANKS ETHIOPIA MY DEAR COUNTRY. YOU MAD US ALL PROUD !!!!!!!!

    HOPE WE WILL HEAR THAT ABOUT OUR OWN PEOPLE LIKE, ESKINDER AND REYOTE AND AMNY MORE SOON.

    GOD BLESS YOU!!!!

  4. Gigi
    | #4

    AND WE ALSO DEMAND THE COURT RULING AGAINEST BRIHANU NEGA AND ALL OTHER OPPOSITIONS, AND JOURNALISTES SENTENCED TO DEATHE AND SO ON TO BE LIFTED. THIS PEOPLE HAVE ALL THE WRIGHTS
    TO PARTICIPAT IN THEIR COUNTRYS POLITICS. THAT SHOULD NEVER BE A CRIM AND IT IS NOT UNDER THE LAW.

    AND WE WANT THE ETHIOPIAN COURT SISTEM TO BE EVALUETED AND ASKED ON WHAT GROUNDS THAT THEY MAKE THIS DICITIONS AND RULINGS. NOT BECAUS HE CALLES WHAT EVER HE DOESNT AGREE WITH, A CRIM
    BUT WHAT DOES OUR RULE OF LAW SAYES. FOR ALL WE KNOW IT IS EVEN A COUNTRY WHO ACCEPTS ONES
    RIGHT OF SELF DITERMINATION TO A POINT OF SEPARETION ACCORDING OF THE TPLF AND EPRDF AGENDA.

    DOES THAT WORK FOR EVERY BODY?. IF THAT SO, HOW COME ANY POLITICAL PARTY CAN NOT HAVE ITS OWN

    IDEOLOGY AND POLITICAL INTEREST AND EXERCISE IT FREELY TO ITS ADVANTEG OR FOR THE PEOPLES
    ADVANTAG OF HIS BELIEV AND UNDERSTANDING OF THE NATION? WE KNOW THAT UNLESS YOU ARE ORGANIZED BESD ON THE TPLFS LINING ETHNICLY OR BECOME EPRDF THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO PLAY
    THE GAME. THEY THEM SELVES ARE EPRDF AND THE WAY THEY PUT IT EPRDF IS THE WHOLE NATION
    ALINED ETHNICLY NOT A POLITICAL PARTY. SO WHEN DOES THE JOKE ENDS? HOPE IT ENDED WITH MELES.

    FREEDOM TO ETHIOPIA!!!!!!!!!!

  5. gofta
    | #5

    Like anna gomeze shout at eurpoean meeting to free all political prisoners while others are cooking some like ruwndas ,that will tale us what the un and the netherland did in yugozlavia and the french in rewanda we should smell what they are cooking.

    am talling you its coming for us be prepared for worest!!!!!!!!!!!111

  6. kelel
    | #6

    weyane after they appointed Hilemariam other three prim mister soon or later they will get rid of him by killing or some sort of car accident or some thing ealse.
    that will be their plan.

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