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Africa
Libya frees two detained British journalists
The Libyan interior ministry says the two men will leave the country tomorrow.
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2012 22:51
The two journalists, accused of spying, have been released and cleared of all charges [Reuters]

Two British journalists working for an Iranian broadcaster, who were detained by a Libyan armed brigade last month and accused of spying, have been released and cleared of all charges, an interior ministry official said.

"The interior ministry granted their release when it became obvious that no crime had been committed," deputy interior minister Omar al-Khadrawi told reporters in Tripoli on Sunday.

"They have expressed a desire to leave Libya," he added.

The two freed journalists were seated beside the official during the press conference, looking tired but healthy.

Afterwards, they left the ministry building in a British embassy car.

Nicholas Davies-Jones and Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, who were working for Iran's English-language Press TV, were detained on February 22 by the Swehli brigade, one of dozens of militias which last year helped force out Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

'Illegal detention'

Earlier this month, the Swehli militia said the Britons, initially detained for illegal entry into Libya, were suspected of spying. 

The deputy interior minister acknowledged on Sunday that there had been suspicions about their activities but told reporters their "innocence has been proven."

"What happened could not be considered as a kidnapping by revolutionaries," Khadrawi said, adding that former rebels had been acting in the interest of state security.

The two journalists were not given an opportunity to speak to the press.

When asked if he had been treated well, Montgomery-Johnson simply nodded.

In London, a spokeswoman for Britain's Foreign Office said: "We welcome the release of the two British journalists who have recently been detained in Libya.

She added: "The men are in the care of consular staff, they are well and look forward to being reunited with their families soon."

Source:
Agencies
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