International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today accused the Ethiopian
authorities of waging an intimidation campaign against the independent media
after four journalists, including two Swedish reporters, were charged with
terrorism in Addis Ababa. Swedish reporter Martain Schibbye and
photographer John Persson are facing trial for reporting on the situation in
the country. Their Ethiopian colleagues
Woubshet and Reeyot Alemu who work for independent media outlets in the country
and have been in detention since June 2011.
are outrageous accusations designed to intimidate journalists who seek to work
independently in Ethiopia," said Gabriel Baglo, IFJ Africa Office Director.
"There can be no press freedom when the media is denied access to independent
information. We urge the authorities to drop these charges and set all our
say that the two Swedish nationals appeared before a court in Addis Ababa on
Wednesday 7 September where they were formally charged with terrorism. Johan
and Martin were arrested on 27 June after crossing into Ethiopia from
Somaliland. The journalists reportedly admitted entering Ethiopian territory
without visas but denied any involvement with terrorism. Under the Ethiopian anti- terror legislation,
the journalists could be sentenced to life imprisonment if convicted.
IFJ supports the call made by the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) for
the immediate release of the two journalists, saying the reporters' detention
risks impacting negatively on the standing of the Ethiopia on press freedom and
rule of law.
are clearly not terrorists, but journalists who have been doing their work in a
place where little information reaches the world," said Arne König. "They pose no risk to
the public safety or order and should be released immediately so that they can
go back to their families and colleagues."
the meantime, two other Ethiopian journalists, deputy editor of the independent
weekly Awramba Times Woubshet Taye
and Reeyot Alemu, a regular contributor to the independent weekly Feteh who were arrested in June, also face charges under the terrorism act.
IFJ says that these cases add to the urgency of governments' reviews of
anti-terror laws to guarantee press freedom and the protection of journalists.
An international conference organised by the IFJ and EFJ last weekend
emphatically rejected the abuse of laws to fight terrorism as an excuse to
silence independent media and political dissent.
For more information contact the IFJ at +221 33 867 95
87 / +32 2 235 2200
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 131 countries worldwide