PEN International condemns the draconian punishment handed down to Swedish journalists Johann Persson and Martin Schibbye by an Ethiopian judge on December 26, 2011. The two journalists, found guilty of entering the country illegally and “supporting terrorism,” were each sentenced to 11 years in prison. PEN calls for their immediate release.

Background Information

The reporters were arrested on July 1, 2011, in Ethiopia’s Ogaden region, following a battle between Ethiopian forces and the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF). The ONLF is regarded by Ethiopia as a terrorist organization and Persson and Schibbye were charged under anti-terrorism legislation. The journalists had entered the country illegally on an assignment to investigate allegations of human rights violations linked to the activities of the Swedish oil company Lundin Oil. Both denied any involvement in terrorism.

There are serious concerns about the fairness of the trial, which saw both political interference by the prime minister, and the use of fabricated evidence in court.

Write A Letter

  • Calling for the immediate and unconditional release of the journalists Martin Schibbye and Johann Persson;
  • Expressing concern that the journalists have been imprisoned purely in relation to their journalistic activity, in violation of the right to freedom of expression protected under Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights;
  • Protesting the unfair trial in which political interference and fabricated evidence were prominent.

Send Your Letter To

Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi
P.O. Box 1031
Addis Ababa
Fax: +251 155 20 30
Salutation: Dear Prime Minister

Minister of Justice
Berhanu Hailu
Ministry of Justice
P.O. Box 1370
Addis Ababa
Fax: +251 11 551 7775/ 7755
Email: [email protected], [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Minister

Federal Police Commissionner
Gebeyehu Workineh
P.O. Box 5718
Addis Ababa
Fax: +251 551 12 13

Please copy appeals to the diplomatic representative for Ethiopia in your country if possible.

Please send appeals immediately. Contact PEN if sending appeals after February 15, 2012: ftw [at]