EU Diplomat: Release of 2 Swedish Journalists Jailed in Ethiopia Close

Posted February 29th, 2012 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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A senior European diplomat says two Swedish journalists jailed in Ethiopia could be released within days.

Member of the European Parliament and former Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel said Wednesday he had productive discussions with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, and that he is optimistic the journalists, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, will be freed soon.

In December, an Ethiopian court convicted the two Swedes of entering the country illegally and supporting a rebel group the government has classified as a terrorist organization. After their conviction and sentencing, Schibbye and Persson declined to file an appeal, saying they would ask for clemency.

During the trial, the pair admitted entering Ethiopia illegally, but denied supporting the rebels.

In neighboring Somalia, the National Union of Somali Journalists on Wednesday condemned the killing of a Mogadishu radio station director, Abukar Hassan Mohamoud, a day earlier.

Union secretary-general, Mohamed Ibrahim, said:

“He was planning to bring the radio on air again. The reason is yet unclear, though he was very involved in civil society activism such as youth in Banadir region in recent days. This is a really worrying trend for the journalists working in Mogadishu and the government has not done enough to investigate and bring suspects for prosecution.”

Mohamoud was the third Somali journalist killed in as many months. His death underscored the constant threat against journalists working in the war-torn country.

Media-rights groups say Somalia is the most dangerous country in Africa for journalists.

Meanwhile, the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists said another journalist was arrested and beaten by police in the semi-autonomous region of Somaliland. The group said Mohamed Abdirahman was accused of publishing a false story that said Ethiopian separatists had settled in the region.