Swedish journalists Schibbye and Persson leave Ethiopia

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) have always maintained their innocence

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Two Swedish journalists freed by the Ethiopian government have left the country, a spokeswoman for Sweden's foreign affairs ministry has told the BBC.

They have gone to a secret location to rest, she added.

It was not known when they would return to Sweden, she said, adding it would be up to them to make that decision.

Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson were jailed last year after being captured with rebels in eastern Ethiopia.

The two left the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, late on Monday after their release.

Prime Minister Meles Zenawi pardoned the journalists before his death last month.

Schibbye and Persson were captured in July 2011 by Ethiopian troops during a clash with fighters of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), which Ethiopia regards as a terrorist group.

They were in the remote south-eastern region of Ogaden, populated mainly by ethnic Somalis, to investigate the activities of a company affiliated with the Swedish oil firm Lundin Petroleum.

They have always argued they were in Ethiopia just to do their job.

They appealed for clemency following their conviction in December 2011 for supporting the ONLF.

Mr Meles, who was in power for 21 years, died last month after a long illness.

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