News24

Freed journalists return to Sweden

2012-09-14 20:06

Stockholm - The two Swedish journalists freed after 14 months in prison in Ethiopia landed at Stockholm's airport on Friday, saying they were glad to be back in a country where they could speak freely.

"We are doing well and are incredibly relieved," Martin Schibbye, 31, told reporters greeting the pair whose arrival was broadcast live on public television.

"It's incredibly agreeable to be in a country where one can express oneself freely. Our thoughts go to those who are still in prison," he said.

Johan Persson, 30, said the two would hold a press conference later in the day.

The relatives of the two men greeting them at the airport rejoiced, with Schibbye's wife saying that it was "marvelous and unreal" to see her husband back while Persson's mother said that "we can breathe again".

Freelancers Schibbye and Persson were arrested with rebels from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) on July 1 last week after illegally entering from Somalia.

They were in the remote southeastern region of Ogaden, populated mainly by ethnic Somalis, to investigate the activities of a company affiliated with the Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum.

They were charged and convicted of "supporting terrorism" and handed an 11-year jail sentence, but freed on Monday after serving 14 months following a pardon from the authorities on Ethiopia's New Year.

The case had drawn heavy criticism from rights groups. The journalists were convicted under Ethiopia's anti-terror law, which critics have called vague and indiscriminate.