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British journalists freed in Libya

Two UK journalists detained and accused of spying by a militia group in Libya have been released and will leave the country on Monday.

Libya journalists press tv 2012 03 19Enlarge
Gareth Montgomery-Johnson (L) and Nicholas Davies were captured in the Libyan capital of Tripoli by a Misrata-based militia on February 22 while working as freelance journalists for Iranian news channel Press TV. (MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images)

LONDON – Two British journalists who were detained in Libya after entering the country illegally have been released, the UK Foreign Office has confirmed.

Gareth Montgomery-Johnson, 36, and Nicholas Davies, 37, were captured in the Libyan capital of Tripoli by a Misrata-based militia on February 22 while working as freelance journalists for Iranian news channel Press TV.

The militia accused the pair of spying, and last week released a video of the men apologizing for entering Libya without proper authorization, Reuters reported.

However on Wednesday the group handed both men over to the Libyan Interior Ministry, who said yesterday that the two had been released and would be deported on Monday, according to The Guardian.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman later confirmed the journalists’ release, Sky News reported, saying: “We welcome the release of the two British journalists who have recently been detained in Libya.”

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

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In a radio interview with the BBC on Monday, Montgomery-Johnson’s sister Melanie Gribble said she expected him to return home within the next 24 or 36 hours. She said her brother had told her during a phonecall on Sunday night “how tired and weary and exhausted they were, that they were looking forward to coming home.”

Deputy Interior Minister Omar al-Khadrawi told journalists in Tripoli that “the interior ministry granted their release when it became obvious that no crime had been committed,” adding that “they have expressed a desire to leave Libya," according to the Agence France Presse.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/united-kingdom/120319/british-journalists-freed-libya