Swedish journalists ‘must be freed’: Reinfeldt

Two Swedish journalists found guilty by an Ethiopian court Wednesday of supporting a terrorist group are innocent and must be set free, Swedish prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt said in a statement.

Swedish journalists 'must be freed': Reinfeldt

Freelance reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were found guilty of illegally entering Ethiopia from Somalia and of supporting rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

The prosecution has called for a maximum sentence of 18 years and six months in prison. Their sentences are to be announced on December 27.

“Our position is and continues to be that they were in the country on a journalistic assignment. They must be released as soon as possible in order to be reunited with their families in Sweden,” Reinfeldt said.

“The government considers today’s ruling against the two Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson in Addis Ababa very serious,” he added.

Reinfeldt said the government was “already making high-level contact with the Ethiopian government in this matter.”

Schibbye and Persson had admitted contact with the outlawed rebel group and to entering Ethiopia illegally, but rejected terrorism charges including accusations they received weapons training.

Last month, charges of participating in terrorism were dropped for lack of evidence.

The two have said they met with the ONLF for professional reasons only, as part of their investigations on the activities of Swedish oil company Lundin Oil.

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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.