“I was misquoted by the AFP reporter. I haven’t said that they stand accused of anything. We are investigating why they were in the area.They were arrested in the wrong place with the wrong people, but we don’t know why,” Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson Dina Mufti told news agency TT.
He couldn’t answer what the two Swedes stand accused of or when their case may go to trial.
“As they haven’t been charged with anything and no interrogations have been held they have yet to receive legal representation,” Mufti told TT.
The two Swedish reporters, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, were in a conflicted Ogaden region by the Somali border, when they were arrested on July 1st.
Ogaden is off-limits to journalists, and there is an armed conflict going on between the government army and the guerrilla movement Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The region 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.
Despite the earlier information given by Ethiopian authorities that the two Swedish reporters had been moved to the capital city Addis Ababa, the Foreign Ministry were told on Wednesday afternoon that they are still held in the Jijiga area.
“We have had it confirmed to us that they are still in Jijiga. We don’t know the reason behind it or if they still will be transferred to Addis Ababa,” said Cecilia Juhlin of the Foreign Ministry to news agency TT.
The Swedish ambassador to Ethiopia, Jens Odlander, was not allowed to see the Swedes on Tuesday but is expected to visit the two reporters again as soon as he receives the green light from authorities.
“We are counting on visiting them again then. We have received positive information indicating that this request will be granted,” Juhlin told DN.
But later on Wednesday they received the information that the men were still in Jijiga. Jens Odlander, who had returned to Addis Ababa following the news that the men were being taken there, does not want to speculate into what it means.
“Of course we are a little worried of the contradictory information. We haven’t received any explanation,” he told TT.