Two Swedish journalists sentenced to 11 years in prison in Ethiopia have decided to ask for a pardon rather than appeal their case. They were found guilty in December of promoting the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) , considered a terrorist organisation by the Ethiopian government, and of entering the country illegally.
Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson have always claimed that they were only doing their work as journalists when they were captured by Ethiopian troops in July 2011. They have denied the terrorist charges but have admitted that they entered the country illegally.
They have made it clear that their decision to ask for clemency is not in any way a change in this position. It is not certain whether they have to admit to the charges against them if they ask for pardon rather than appeal the case.
The two journalists are being held in the overcrowded Kaliti prison in Addis Adaba where many political and media opponents of the present government led by Meles Zenawi have been incarcerated.
It is not known when the application process for pardon can begin but the Swedish ambassador to Ethiopia has told the Voice of America that bilateral discussion about the future of the journalists is underway with the Ethiopian government.