‘No regrets’

After their arrest they said they were ordered at gunpoint to take part in a film supposedly documenting their relationship with the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

“Two civilians, who we’d never seen before, were dressed up as rebels. The soldiers gave them guns and stood them in front of us, and they testified against us and said that we came with them from Somalia,” says Mr Schibbye.

The journalists allege that senior Ethiopian civilian officials were in charge of the filming.

“This was not being done by some crazy militia: the director was the vice president in the region, and in the evening the regional president called us and said, ‘We are not satisfied by your performances in the film,'” said Mr Schibbye. Eventually the film was used against them in court.

Ethiopia’s eastern Ogaden region has been the focus of an insurgency by local ethnic Somalis.

“We were walking through villages where there had been people living till recently, but now they had fled, forced out by the conflict. There was heavy fighting and that was one of the reasons why we were detected and followed and ambushed by the Ethiopian army,” Mr Persson said.

Despite spending more than a year n prison, they say they have no regrets their time in Ethiopia.

For Martin Schibbye, the work of foreign correspondent is one that requires taking risks and refusing to accept there are areas closed to journalists.

His colleague agrees: “As long as governments make laws to protect themselves against journalists, our job is to break those laws. I would do the same again today.”

BBC Text



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