Conflict & Justice

Swedish journalists deny terrorism charges, admit to illegal entrance


Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye (left) and Johan Persson (right). They currently are scheduled for trial in Ethiopia Thursday on terrorism charges.

Ethiopia’s police chief testified in trial of two Swedish journalists on terrorism charges that they came to the country to support rebels, the BBC reports

Journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were arrested in July while travelling with the Ogaden National Liberation Front, a group Ethiopia’s government deem as an outlawed separatist movement and off limits to journalists. The ONLF was formed in 1984 to make the eastern Ethiopian region of Ogaden an indepedent state.

GlobalPost: Ethiopia: Swedish journalists are 'messenger boys of a terrorist organization' 

Police inspector Mohamed Ahmed told the court Tuesday that the the two journalists intended to support and work with the ONLF. Schibbye and Persson have denied the allegation, but admitted to illegally entering the country.

The Swedes were charged in October with engaging in terrorist activities, assisting a terrorist group, and entering the country illegally, the AFP reports.

Media and human rights groups have criticized Ethiopiean Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s public statements last month when he denied the Swedes of being journalists and accused them of being “messenger boys of a terrorist organisation."  

Schibbye has reported for a number of Swedish press in addition to Times London. John Persson is a photojournalist for Kontinent, a Swedish-based global photojournalist agency, according to their websites.