Ethiopia must free convicted Swedish journalists

December 21, 2011–Today’s conviction of two Swedish journalists by an Ethiopian court is emblematic of Ethiopia’s increasing use of antiterrorism laws to persecute independent media, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

“Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were working as journalists and should never have been put on trial. They should be released immediately,” said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes. “Courts in Ethiopia lack independence and credibility. This ruling is a politicized measure to intimidate the press.”

A court in Addis Ababa found photojournalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson from the Swedish photojournalism agency, Kontinent, guilty of entering the country illegally and supporting a terrorist group. The charges could lead to a prison sentence of 18 years. Ethiopian authorities have charged 10 journalists with terrorism since June 2011, CPJ research shows.