A court in Ethiopia on Tuesday sentenced two Swedish journalists to 11 years in prison on charges of supporting terrorism after the two illegally entered the country with an ethnic Somali rebel group in a case that has been criticized by media rights groups.
Judge Shemsu Sirgaga ruled that the two freelance journalists — Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye — will serve “rigorous imprisonment” following their convictions last week.
Ethiopian troops had captured Persson and Schibbye six months ago during a clash with rebels in eastern Ethiopia’s restive Somali region, a no-go area for reporters. Ethiopia considers the rebel group a terrorist organization, and it is very difficult for journalists to gain access to the region. Rights groups say that is so abuses there are not exposed.
Persson and Schibbye say they were reporting on a Swedish company that is exploring Ethiopia’s Somali region for oil.
Image: Video still of Persson and Schibbye soon after they were first arrested, via iWatch News.