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Swedish Ambassador met with jailed Swedes in Ethiopia

By Tigrai Online
July 05 2011

Tigrai Online - Ethiopian Lion watchingOn Monday evening the Swedish ambassador was permitted to visit the two Swedish journalists currently being held in custody in Ethiopia.

"They're feeling fairly well, considering the circumstances," ambassador Jens Odlander told news agency TT.

The journalists Martin Schibbye, 30, and freelance photographer Johan Persson, 29, also managed to contact relatives in Sweden by telephone, on Monday. The Swedes have minor bullet injuries, and are currently in the city Jijiga, close to the Somali border.

"We're in a very sensitive position right now. The only thing I can confirm is that I've met them and that they feel, considering the circumstances, alright," said Odlander.

Both Swedes have now received medical attention for their injuries.

"They're physically and mentally exhausted, and feel strained by the situation. They've received medical attention in jail, and they were given first aid in connection with their arrest," said Cecilia Julin from the Foreign Ministry's press office.

According to the Foreign Ministry, a judicial process has commenced, and it was first believed that the Swedes would face Ethiopian court on Tuesday.

"We've received information that court proceedings will begin, but it's still unclear what they're being accused of," said Julin.

But later on Tuesday morning the foreign ministry said that the information they had received regarding the Swedes trial was uncertain. According to TT, the ministry is expecting another report from ambassador Odlander in Addis Ababa.

The two Swedish journalists were in a conflicted area, the region Ogaden by the Somali border, when they were arrested

Ogaden is closed to journalists, and there is an armed conflict going on between the government army and the rebel movement Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Ogaden is populated by ethnic Somalis, and the Swedes entered the area together with rebels from Somali breakaway republic Puntland, in order to report on the situation.

Abdi Mahdi, who heads of the UK branch of the ONLF organization in London told TT on Sunday evening that he had been in contact with the reporters three days ago.

“I spoke to them when they were on their way into Ogaden, and we provided them with guides and directions. The plan was for them to tour the whole area but when we didn’t hear from them we began to worry,” Mahdi told TT.

Later on Sunday night it was confirmed by Ethiopian authorities that Ethiopian soldiers had killed 15 ONLF rebels in the Ogaden region.

Schibbye and Persson, who accompanied them, were reported to have sustained minor injuries in the clash between guerrilla and government forces.

“15 rebels, all armed, were killed and six were injured. Two Swedish reporters sustained minor injuries during the fighting,” Shimelis Kemal, spokesman for the Ethiopian government told news agency Reuters on Sunday.

Source TT