Ethiopians deny charges against jailed Swedes

The information that an Ethiopian foreign ministry official had confirmed that the two Swedish reporters held in custody after being arrested in the Ogaden province will be charged with terrorism crimes, has been repudiated but the authority.

“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.

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Germany bans plane model involved in deadly Ethiopia crash from airspace

Germany on Tuesday banned all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from its airspace, Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer announced, following a deadly crash in Ethiopia.

Germany bans plane model involved in deadly Ethiopia crash from airspace
A 737 Max 8 plane from Ethiopia airlines. Photo: DPA

“Safety comes first. Until all doubts have been cleared up, I have ordered that German airspace be closed to all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with immediate effect,” he told NTV television.

There are currently no 737 MAX planes registered in Germany.

The minister's announcement follows similar bans by a string of countries around the world after a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines plane of the same model crashed on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, including five from Germany.

The same model of plane operated by Lion Air also crashed in Indonesia last
October, killing 189.

Britain, China, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Oman are among the countries that have closed their airspace to the planes in response.

Earlier on Tuesday, Germany's TUI fly carrier said it was grounding its 15-strong fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, which are stationed in Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

TUI fly was in “close contact” with the authorities in those countries, the spokesman added.