By Tesfa-Alem Tekle
September 12, 2012(ADDIS ABABA) – International press freedom group, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) welcomed the release of two Swedish journalists by authorities in Ethiopia.
CPJ has however called on Ethiopian government to free six more journalists who still remain imprisoned on activities related with their professions.
The call comes one day after two Swedish journalists Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were set free on pardon grant after spending over 14 months behind bars in Addis Ababa’s Kality detention center.
The two foreign Journalists were freed along with over 10,000 Ethiopian prisoners freed nation-wide on Pardon for the Ethiopian New Year of 2005.
"Martin Schibbye, Johan Persson and other journalists in Ethiopia have paid a heavy price for trying to uncover what the government is seeking to hide," said CPJ East Africa Consultant Tom Rhodes.
"As Ethiopia begins a new year today, we urge the country’s new leadership to truly begin afresh by releasing the six journalists still in prison."
Ethiopian security forces on July 1, 2011 arrested the two Swedes while they were attempting to cross into Ethiopian territory from Somalia along with members of an outlawed rebel group, Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF).
The two men were sentenced to 11 years of jail terms each after convicted of supporting terrorism and for illegal entry into the country.
According to CPJ, the horn of African’s nation has convicted 11 independent journalists and bloggers since 2011, under the country’s controversial anti-terrorism law.
Mean while the Ethiopian government last week has held preliminary peace talks with terrorist designated ONLF in Kenya to end the rebel group’s decades of insurgency in the oil promising Ogaden region.
“Both sides agreed to specific goodwill and confidence-building measures ahead of formal negotiations” a statement released by Ministry of foreign affairs said.
The ministry further said the two sides have also agreed on the modalities for the negotiation process, the general principles that would be the basis for resolving the conflict, and the initial agenda.