Journalists detained in Ethiopia to stand trial

Two Swedish journalists have been taken in to custody by the army in Ethiopia, and are set to stand trial over yet unknown charges.

Freelancers Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye entered Ethiopia from Somalia, and were reporting on the ongoing conflict between Somali guerrillas and the Ethopian state.

The last person to see Persson and Schibbye before their arrest was Anna Roxwall, a journalist who has worked with Persson in the past.

“Last time I spoke to them they were being pursued by car. They are in a very dangerous area,” she told Swedish news agency TT.

The men were reportedly caught up in a clash between the warring groups, and were hurt after being shot at by Ethiopian soldiers. The journalists’ two guides were killed during the incident, according to TT.

A spokesman for the Ethiopian government told Reuters: “15 rebels, all armed, were killed and six were injured. Two Swedish reporters sustained minor injuries during the fighting.”

Ethiopian authorities say the men are receiving treatment for their injuries, and claim they are being held because they entered the country illegally.

Sveriges Radio reported that both men had been in contact with their families in recent days, and on Monday were visited by the Swedish ambassador, Cecilia Julin.

"They’re physically and mentally exhausted, and feel strained by the situation" said Julin in a statement. "They’ve received medical attention in jail, and they were given first aid in connection with their arrest."

On Sunday it was reported that Persson and Schibbye were taken to Jijiga, a city in eastern Ethiopia and the capital of the Somali Region of the country, where they were expected to stand trial yesterday.

Kent Öberg of the foreign ministry information service initially told TT that the Swedish embassy was having difficulty establishing contact with the journalists

“We have received information that they will go to court … but we have not been informed as to what the charges are,” he said.