Monday, January 23, 2012
Swedish journalists detained in Ethiopia
Two Swedish journalists have been sentenced to 11 years for terrorism activities by an Ethiopian court at the end of the last December. They had entered illegally the African country in Ogaden along with a Somali rebel group, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, which is considered a terroristic organization by Addis Adela. Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye are freelance journalist, publishing for several Scandinavian newspapers, and they were imprisoned after being discovered during a clash between government and rebel forces in the Ogaden area. During the process, the two recognized to had entered in the country illegally, but with the purpose of covering stories about human rights abuses and business involvement of Swedish companies in the exploitation of local oil resources. Despite the court rejected their claims, the judge had not sentenced them with the maximum of the penalty, which is 18 years, and this can be considered a good sign for the appeal phase. Living conditions in Ethiopian prisons are harsh, but the two are not considered in danger of life, and the staff of the Swedish Embassy is assisting them. Local activists have accused the ruling Ethiopian government to have organized a campaign against opposition groups and democracy in the country, and more than 150 arrests have been reported in 2011, counting several journalists.