Swedish journalists 'wanted to train Ethiopian rebels'

Left: Johan Persson (Photo credit: AFP/Scanpix/ Kontinent Agency). Right: Martin Schibbye (Photo credit: AFP / Scanpix/Kontinent Agency/Jonas Gratzer Johan Persson (L) and Martin Schibbye (R) were arrested in July and their trial began last month

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Ethiopia's police chief has told the terrorism trial of two Swedish journalists that they entered the country to support rebels.

Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye were arrested in July after they were caught with fighters from an Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) faction.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges, but have admitted entering the country illegally from Somalia.

Police inspector Mohamed Ahmed said the two intended to train ONLF rebels.

When asked after the hearing about the police chief's testimony and whether they supported the ONLF, the Swedes laughed, shook their heads and said no, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The Swedish pair wore suits and ties with rubber sandals at the hearing, looking more exhausted than on their last court appearance on 20 October, the AFP news agency says.

Since the 1970s, rebels in Ethiopia's Somali Region - more commonly known as the Ogaden - have been fighting for the Somali-speaking Ethiopians who they say have been marginalised by the government in Addis Ababa.

One ONLF faction signed a peace deal with the government last year, but another splinter group has continued to fight the army.

Human rights groups have repeatedly accused the government of widespread atrocities in the Ogaden, where journalists need permission to travel.

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