The motive behind acquitting the two Swedish journalists for conspiring to commit terrorist attacks, but keeping them in detention for assisting what the court called assisting the secessionist ONLF rebel group is nothing but to prolong the show as a warning to the international Press and Journalists.

Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in July after they entered Ogaden province from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region with a team of fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).

Though the prosecutors have provided what they called as witnesses and evidence to support their accusation, the court does not believe it was substantial enough to prove that the journalists were involved in carrying out a terror attack. However, the judge ordered the pair to defend themselves against allegations they had helped the ONLF and had entered the country illegally without a permit.

Persson and Schibbye last month admitted to crossing the border without a permit, but the other allegation of helping ONLF in which Addis Ababa has blacklisted as a terrorist group and according to the recently-adopted anti-terrorism legislation outlaws promotion of the insurgents’ activities is shrewdly raised by the prosecutor, and is indefensible in government managed courts. The heel of Achilles of the whole process. But The journalists’ lawyers told the court that they would challenge the two outstanding charges, saying they would provide up to eight witnesses to prove their innocence when the defendants appear in court on December 6.

During the trial, prosecutors screened a three-hour video they said was obtained from one of the Swedes’ laptops, showing footage of the journalists hoisting rifles alongside armed men and being briefed over a map on how to infiltrate the region.

CPJ argued that the latest campaigns against the press are aimed to silence critical voices and further condemned what it said was a systematic way of keeping journalists in a state of insecurity and fear.

ONA.

 

 

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