February 17, 2012

Ethiopia risks western aid suspension over jailed Swedes

Filed under: Azeb Mesfin,Ethiopia,Meles Zenawi — ethiopiantimes @ 12:39 pm
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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

February 17, 2012(ADDIS ABABA) — A European Union delegation is negotiating with Ethiopian authorities over the release of two Swedish journalists who currently are facing prison terms under a 2009 anti-terrorism law in the horn of Africa’s nation.

The negotiations came after Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, last week told parliament that his country might consider granting pardon to the Swedes if they admit to wrong doings.

According to Sudan Tribune sources, the EU delegation during the past few days has been meeting Ethiopian officials including Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, in an effort to release the two journalists.

However, the European Union delegation has gave hints that Ethiopia could lose the aid it receives from European nations if the horn of Africa nation failed to release jailed Swedes.

“In the last couple of days, we have been discussing with Ethiopian officials and we hope to secure the release of the two reporters,” Kenyan newspaper, the nation, quoted a high-ranking EU official as saying.

“Aid suspension is the last option.” The EU official who decline to be named further said.

Ethiopia security forces arrested photo journalist, Johan Persson, and reporter, Martin Schibbye, last July after the Swedes crossed in to Ethiopia from Somalia along armed members of Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), a separatist movement blacklisted by Addis Ababa as a terrorist organization.

Last December an Ethiopia court sentenced the two Swedes to 11 years of rigorous imprisonment each for aiding, promoting banned rebel group and also for illegally entering the horn of Africa’s state. The Swedes have admitted to entering country without permit but denied to supporting terrorism.

The conviction against the Swedes has raised broad criticisms from the Swedish government. A number of international human right organizations have also condemned it as “politically motivated”.



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