Tripoli, March 18: The two British journalists held captive in Tripoli for three weeks by Misrata’s Saadoun Swehli brigade before being handed . . .[restrict]over to the civil authorities last Wednesday have been released and will be deported Monday, the Interior Ministry announced today. “The British consul received them and the charges against them have been dropped,” ministry official Abed Al-Menemayad told Reuters.
Gareth Montgomery-Johnson and Nicholas Davies were detained by the brigade on February 23 and accused entering Libya illegally and of spying. The bigade turned the pair over to the national government on March14 after sustained pressure from the NTC, the British government and international humanitarian organizations.
The journalists had been in Libya for several months working with Iranian Press TV. In a video released by the Swehli brigade, Montgomery-Johnson admitted entering the country without a visa, saying “we are sorry for causing any inconvenience. We love Libya and we came here to film its struggle for freedom and report the news.”
“The interior ministry granted their release when it became obvious that no crime had been committed,” said Deputy Interior Minister Umar Khadrawi, according to AFP.
Several brigades continue to operate in Tripoli in defiance of government deadlines to leave the city or integrate into a unified command. Earlier today, fighting between local militia members in the suburb of Abu Selim killed one member of the Zintan brigade and wounded several others.