Two Swedish journalists have volunteered to go to jail as a way of drawing attention to the plight of three colleagues held in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Johan Wirfält and Sara Murillo Cortes plan to be locked up in a Stockholm prison in order to raise awareness about the incarceration of Dawit Isaak, Martin Schibbye and Johan Persso.
They don’t plan to commit any crimes, of course. They will read a statement outlining their support for their jailed colleagues and criticising the Swedish foreign department and minister Carl Bildt for failing to do enough to secure the mens’ release.
They will then request that they be placed in prison – though they don’t know if the authorities will actually do so.
The Swedish-Eritrean journalist Dawit Isaak has been held in an Eritrean prison since 2001 without trial and is considered a traitor by the Eritrean government.
Amnesty International has highlighted his case frequently and has called for his release.
Freelance reporters Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson have been held in an Ethiopian jail since the beginning of July on terrorist charges (as reported here last week by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism).
Wirfält told the Swedish daily, Dagens Nyheter: “This is a new way to draw further attention to the imprisoned Swedish journalists… We want to show our criticism of the foreign ministry… We also want to highlight the vulnerable situation that freelance journalists find themselves in when they go out without having the back-up of an editorial team.”
He added that he and Murillo Cortes are hoping other journalists will join in with their action, claiming that 40 others have already pledged their support.
The pair plan their prison stay some time before 15 October, when the trial of Schibbye and Persson is set to take place in Ethiopia.
Source: The Local