This first came to my attention during the holidays, and I’d hoped to have heard good news since then. Unfortunately, Kontinent photographer Johan Persson and writer Martin Schibbye remain in jail after being found guilty of supporting terrorism in Ethiopia in late December 2011. The two Swedish journalists had been investigating recent oil discoveries in the region for Filter magazine, their travel in the area having been arranged by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel group, which Ethiopia considers a terrorist organization. Ethiopian troops captured the pair in July as they traveled with the ONLF.
The Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a statement on the Swedish government’s website that Sweden has made high-level contact with Ethiopia in the matter. Reinfeldt backs the notion that Persson and Schibbye were working as journalists and says the pair should be freed immediately. Meanwhile, the journalists remain in jail in Ethiopia and have decided not to appeal the verdict, opting instead to seek a pardon on the advice of experts in such matters.
Martinandjohan.org publishes updates on the case and provides details for ways to support the pair while they remain in prison.
We hope for speedy and safe freedom for both.