By Aaron Maasho
(Reuters) – An Ethiopian court sentenced two Swedish journalists Tuesday to 11 years in prison for helping and promoting the outlawed Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel group and entering the country illegally.
The accusations and last week’s guilty verdicts have provoked anger in Sweden and suggestions in the media the case has taken on a political dimension.
Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in July after they entered the Ogaden province from Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region with ONLF fighters.
“The court has sentenced both defendants to 11 years. We have heard both cases … and we believe this is an appropriate sentence,” Judge Shemsu Sirgaga told the court.
Shemsu said the convictions warranted a sentence of up to 14 and a half years, but noted the freelance journalists’ good behavior. The prosecution had asked for 18 and a half years.