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Court drops one of three charges against Swedish journalists

(RSF/IFEX) - 3 November 2011 - Reporters Without Borders is relieved to learn that an Addis Ababa court today dropped a charge of participating in terrorist activity against Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye of the Kontinent news agency, who nonetheless continue to be tried on charges of supporting a terrorist group and entering Ethiopia illegally.

At the end of today's hearing, the trial was adjourned until 6 December. The two journalists will meanwhile remain in detention.

"We hope that the court will also drop the charge of supporting a terrorist group," Reporters Without Borders said. "Persson and Schibbye are recognized journalists and have nothing in common with terrorists. All they did was enter the Ogaden without proper documents because that region is closed to the media. Their goal was just to report on what is going on there."

Persson, a reporter, and Schibbye, a photographer, were arrested on 1 July after entering Ethiopia from Somalia with members of the separatist Ogaden National Liberation Front, which the Ethiopian government regards as a terrorist organization. When the trial opened last month, they admitted entering the country illegally but pleaded not guilty to the other two charges.

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