27 December 2011

Alert

IFJ condemns jail term handed down to Swedish journalists


Incident details

Imprisonment, Sentencing

Martin Schibbye, Journalist
Johan Persson, Journalist
(IFJ/IFEX) - 26 December 2011 - The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) has condemned the jail sentences which were handed down today by a judge in Addis Ababa to Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson.

The pair were both sentenced to 11 years in jail after an Ethiopian court last week convicted them of entering the country illegally and supporting terrorism. Both men admit they entered Ethiopia without permission but strenuously deny any accusations of supporting terrorism.

The journalists were in the country to investigate the human rights record of the oil industry in the region. They were specifically interested in Lundin Oil, a company in which the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt was on the board and a shareholder, before becoming a minister.

The Federation vowed to work relentlessly with its European and African groups, the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and the Federation of African Journalists (FAJ) to overturn the verdict and secure the reporters’ freedom.

“This is a devastating blow to press freedom in Ethiopia but we are determined to pursue the fight for our colleagues’ freedom,” said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. “This sentence is all about cowing independent media into submission to government’s control and it is preposterous to even suggest these journalists represent a danger to peace and security.”

According to media reports, the president judge in the case of the two journalists, Shemsu Sirgaga sentenced the journalists to 11 years in prison, saying that the sentence “should satisfy the goal of peace and security.”

Prosecutors had asked for 18 years in prison for the pair.

The IFJ strongly criticised last week’s verdict and joined the EFJ and the Eastern Africa Journalists’ Association (EAJA) in demanding the journalists’ release. Two other Ethiopian journalists were also on trial for terror charge and they are still awaiting the court’ decision.

The Federation plans to mobilise its members and partners in Africa and Europe in the new year with a view to giving a high profile to this case and maintaining pressure on the authorities in Ethiopia to review this ruling and the detention of the Ethiopian colleagues and release them.

“This is clearly an unfair and unjust sentence which adds to the anxiety of our colleagues and their families,” added Arne König, EFJ President. “The Swedish Union of Journalists is now going to work closely with the journalists’ families and is demanding that the Swedish Government ensures this injustice is remedied and our colleagues can return to their families and colleagues.”

Source:

Putting free expression issues in perspective.

Sign up to receive IFEX In Context.

Ethiopia
 
More from Ethiopia
  • Freedom on the Net 2017: Ethiopia

    The Computer Crime Proclamation enacted in June 2016 criminalizes online defamation and incitement and strengthened the government’s surveillance capabilities by enabling real-time monitoring or interception of communications

  • Freedom of the Press 2017: Ethiopia

    n October, in response to ongoing antigovernment protests, the authorities enacted a state of emergency that allowed them to restrict internet access and social media use and designate two television channels run by Ethiopians abroad as terrorist organizations, among other repressive measures.

  • Freedom of the Press 2016: Ethiopia

    Two journalists—one with an opposition newspaper and another with a state-owned newspaper that had covered mass protests—were arrested in December, and were being held without charge at year’s end.


At this point, would publish: "Home page"
At this point, would publish: "Two Swedish and three Ethiopian journalists charged with terrorism"
At this point, would publish: "Court drops one of three charges against Swedish journalists"
At this point, would publish: "Two Swedish journalists found guilty of "supporting terrorism", face 15 years in jail"
At this point, would publish: "Authorities detain two Swedish journalists"
 
IFEX is a global network of committed organisations working to defend and promote free expression.
Permission is granted for material on this website to be reproduced or republished in whole or in part provided the source member and/or IFEX is cited with a link to the original item.