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Ethiopia charges Swedish journalists with terrorism over ONLF affair

Posted on Thursday, 8 September 2011 10:35

An Ethiopian court has charged two Swedish journalists with terrorism months after they were arrested for entering the country illegally from Somalia with the help of rebel fighters.

The journalists were arrested in July while trying to enter Ethiopia with fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government says is a terrorist group.

ONLF says it is fighting for the independence of the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, bordering Somalia.

The fighters with the Swedish journalists were arrested during an army operation.

Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were injured in the fighting, which killed 15 rebel fighters, according to Ethiopian police.

Since their arrests the Swedish government has been closely following their case through its embassy in Addis Ababa.

State prosecutors charged the two journalists with promoting terrorism.

Two local journalists have also been charged with terrorism after they were arrested alongside opposition figures.

The journalists face life imprisonment if convicted.

Meanwhile, ONLF on Thursday said it strongly condemns the trial of the Swedish journalists.

“Charging these journalists with terrorism represents a gross miscarriage of justice and as such these charges should be dropped immediately,” the group said.

“Charging Mr. Persson and Mr Schibbye with terrorism is indicative of how far the Ethiopian regime is willing to go to discourage journalists from uncovering the collective punishment, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed by the Ethiopia regime against the people of Ogaden”.

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