September 10, 2012 - 17:10 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Ethiopia has pardoned two Swedish journalists jailed for assisting an outlawed rebel group and the pair are set for release alongside nearly 2,000 other prisoners, Reuters reported Monday, Sept 10, citing a government source.
Reporter Martin Schibbye and photographer Johan Persson were arrested in July, 2011, after entering the country from neighboring Somalia with fighters from the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebel group.
"Some 1,900 prisoners have been pardoned and are scheduled to be released in the coming days. The Swedish journalists are part of the group," the source told Reuters.
A news conference announcing the pardon was scheduled for 1000 EDT, the source said.
The government source said the pardon was approved before the death of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, who died on August 20 after a long illness.
Schibbye and Persson were sentenced to 11 years in jail by an Ethiopian court in December for helping and promoting the ONLF. Some of Ethiopia's key Western allies, including the European Union and United States, said they were concerned over the verdict.
The pair were acquitted of terrorism related charges after the court found they were not involved in carrying out any attacks.
Addis Ababa often grants mass pardons and announces the decisions ahead of major holidays, in particular the Ethiopian New Year which is celebrated on September 11.