February 3, 2012

Swedish journalists appeal to Zenawi for pardon

Filed under: Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:37 am
Tags: , , , , , ,
Efforts to free Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson continue.
Daniel DeFraia February 2, 2012 15:56
Swedish journalists lawyer

Sweden’s Ambassador to Ethiopia Jens Odlander (C) stands next to Seleshi Ketsela (L) and Abebe Balcha (R), both lawyers for two Swedish journalists found guilty of supporting terrorism in Ethiopia, outside an Addis Ababa courtroom on Dec. 27, 2011. (Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images)

There are 3,372 … now 3,374 signatures and counting that ask for the release of Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson, both serving 11-year prison sentences in Ethiopia.

The signature campaign is quickly amassing worldwide support.

In July 2011 the two journalists were arrested alongside Ogaden National Liberation Front rebels, a separatist group of Somali nationalists, in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. On Dec. 27, 2011 the investigative journalists were convicted for “entering the country illegally and supporting terrorism.”

More from GlobalPost: Ethiopia court finds Swedish journalists guilty of supporting terrorism

Their sentencing is part of a continued movement, precipitated by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi’s government, to suppress opposition reporting within Ethiopia. According to a report by Amnesty International, “There has been a sustained crackdown on members of political opposition parties and journalists [since] 2011.”

Just last month, Elias Kifle, editor of the Ethiopian Review, was sentenced to life in prison. Luckily, he left Ethiopia years earlier and now is in exile in Washington.

Part of the government’s bully tactics come in the form of an anti-terrorism law, ratified in 2009, that allows the government to curb freedom of expression in the name of national security. It is this law that provided the legal precedent used to sentence Schibbye and Persson.

The Committee to Protect Journalists says the “law criminalizes any reporting authorities deem to ‘encourage’ or ‘provide moral support’ to groups and causes the government labels as ‘terrorists.'”

Though acquitted of the charge to commit acts of terror — a sign that things are moving in the right direction — Schibbye and Persson have decided not to fight their 11-year convictions and have appealed to Prime Minister Zenawi for a pardon instead.

“In Ethiopia, there is a long tradition of pardons and we have chosen to leave it to this tradition,” they said from inside Addis Ababa’s Kality prison.

Between the inclusionary anti-terrorism law and tough attitude of Prime Minister Zenawi the two journalists need all the help they can get.

Now there are 3,379 signatures.



  1. It is shameful for Meles Zenawi to have so much hatred for Emperor Haile Selassie that he has twisted history to accomodate his hatred; what Zenawi does not realize is that what works for him in Ethopia does not work in the rest of the African Diaspora and those of us who know are looking at him for what he is…a despot, for who in their right mind would deny the oldest Monarchy in the world from exrpessing itself…at home…not from some foreign country…how dare he continue to touch something that God has made. Its too late to apologize…Meles mus tnow answer to God Almighty, for his own hand will raise up against him and his own words shall condemn him…

    Comment by Woletteselassie — February 11, 2012 @ 7:03 am | Reply

  2. Emperor Haile Selassie I had this to say about those who attempt to cover-up and distort history:

    “History, in whatever form, can never be demolished and obliterated beyond recognition…and, even if a memorial to a meritorious work is consigned to the limbo of obscurity for a time, it would always be rescored from oblivion. “ Emperor Haile Selassie I.

    Comment by Woletteselassie — February 11, 2012 @ 7:05 am | Reply

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