Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye, the two Swedish journalists who were sentenced to 11 years last year for entering Ethiopia illegally and then “pardoned” at the eve Ethiopian New Year on Sunday, gave their first ever press conference here in Stockholm yesterday afternoon. They were released after they made a staged “confession” on Ethiopia's national TV but they said they didn't have other alternatives to be alive when I asked them if they really meant it. They said fellow Ethiopian prisoners of conscious urged them to expose what's going in Ethiopia in general and Kality prison in particular where thousands of Ethiopians are being incarcerated for years and years for no crimes. The duo journalists revealed some disturbing testimonies how the Ethiopian military who captured them in the Ogaden region threatened them with death and forced them to make a confession that they were fighting along with the separatist movement called the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The military reconstructed/staged the shooting and the killing in order to use it as evidence against the duo Swedes. Johan Persson lost a lot of blood as a result of the shooting and fainted twice during this whole ordeal nevertheless the military played them to testify one to another. Martin Schbbiye was emotional and tearful when he described the abuse they sustained during capture. He said one of the military officer told him, “either you do this or I'll kill you”. They said their arrest was used by the Ethiopian regime to scare other critical Ethiopian journalists from doing their job. They said they had the worst nightmare of their lives while they were at Kality prison and heard/seen several times fellow inmates being abused/tortured by prison authorities. Their request to testify in the presence of a lawyer and/or their ambassador in Ethiopia, was rejected by both the Somali regional authorities and the military. After a series of talks between the Swedish ambassador in Ethiopia and Ethiopian authorities, they were brought to capital city Addis Abeba and then charged with terrorism charges. Even though, the government used the doctored evidence against Persson and Schibbye; the supreme court rejected it, dropped the terrorism charges and then sentenced them to 11 years for entering to Ethiopia illegally.
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