After 14 months in jail Ethiopia has pardoned two Swedish journalists it had found guilty of “supporting terrorism” and sentenced to 11 years.
Another 2000 prisoners are being released as part of Ethiopia’s traditional New Year pardons. The new year is on Tuesday.
The journalists had been reporting alongside rebel forces in the Ogaden region having crossed into Ethiopia illegally from Somalia when they were captured in July 2011.
The president, Meles Zanawi, died in August of this year after 21 years in power, and the Ethiopian authorities are now saying the journalists’ pardon had already been decided by the former president before his death.
The men’s detention had become a thorn in the side of the regime internationally, which was being increasingly accused of authoritarianism.
Some 150 prisoners remain in custody under the terms of a contrversial 2009 anti-terrorist law, and despite protests for their release it is unclear how many will be covered by the pardon.